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Answers to Frequently Asked Business Questions about COVID-19

Last updated: August 24, 2020

  1. WORKFORCE
    1. If I have an employee test positive, do I let the public know?
      No, personal health information is protected by HIPAA. As a business, you can communicate there is a positive case but it is not a requirement.
    2. If my employee calls to say they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, is a doctor’s note required before the employee can return or to confirm the illness?
      A doctor’s note is not required for an employee to return to work. Employees should not return to work until there is no fever for 24 hours, it has been 10 days since the first symptoms occurred and symptoms have improved.
    3. I don’t offer my employees paid sick leave. What should I do if someone gets COVID-19?
      Some employees are guaranteed paid leave based on Federal criteria. If your employees are not covered, you should be as flexible as possible, as sick employees should not be at work.
      https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave
    4. If an employee or customer tells me they tested positive for COVID-19, do I contact the Department of Health to initiate contact tracing?
      Private health information is protected by HIPAA. The individual can contact the Department of Health to perform any contact tracing. If the health department receives information on a positive test result, contact tracing is started.
    5. Do I have to shut my business down if one of my staff tests positive for COVID-19, and if so, how long?
      The decision to close a business depends on many things such as the transmission rate in the community and the readiness to protect the safety and health of employees and customers. Closures are determined on a case-by-case basis.
    6. If an employee has a family member who tests positive for COVID-19, what should that employee do?
      If someone in an employee’s household has tested positive for COVID-19, the positive person should isolate from that employee. Unless the employee is essential personnel, the employee should quarantine for 14 days from the last day they were exposed to the infected person. If they are essential workers, they may return to work but must be monitored for symptoms, wear face coverings when interacting with co-workers and customers, wash hands frequently, disinfect all surfaces touched and stay 6 feet from other people if possible.
    7. Should I have regular meetings with my staff to discuss procedures and concerns about COVID-19? If so, is there guidance on what to cover as far as recommended procedures?
      Yes, constant communication is important at this time. Employees are anxious and want to feel safe and valued by their employer. There are many topics you can cover depending on your business. Specific guidance and many documents are available on the Department of Health’s website, www.aahealth.org/covid19. COVID-19 business criteria change, and this website is kept up-to-date.
    8. When servers are taking orders, do customers need to put on their masks?
      Yes, face coverings are to be worn properly covering the mouth and nose by both servers and all customers except when eating or drinking.
    9. If employees are working in the kitchen and it is hot, do they need to have masks on?
      Yes, cook line staff are also required to wear face coverings. Making sure this group gets proper breaks to get fresh air is important.
  2. SANITATION/HYGIENE
    1. Is there anything I can buy for my ventilation system that will help kill the virus?
      It is recommended to make sure HVAC systems are in proper working condition. Change filters on a regular basis, upgrade to HEPA filters, and increase ventilation and air circulation whenever possible.
    2. What is the best cleaner to use in between customers to ensure the virus is not on surfaces?
      Disinfect surfaces using EPA-approved products for use against SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and that are appropriate for the surface. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html
  3. CUSTOMER INTERACTION
    1. If a customer comes into my restaurant without a mask, are we required to tell them they must have it on to enter and walk around? What if they refuse?
      All customers shall wear a face covering at all times except when eating and drinking. If staff ask them to put a face covering on and they refuse, they must leave the business. If they refuse to wear a face covering or leave, call the Anne Arundel County Police.
    2. If someone says they cannot wear a face covering because of a disability, do I have to allow them into my business without one?
      Customers with disabilities who are unable to wear a face covering shall be provided reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act. These customers must be provided with an opportunity to receive the same goods and services as customers without disabilities or medical conditions. Rather than asking further questions regarding the disability, or demanding documentation, business owners should consider offering curbside delivery, allowing pick up of goods by a representative, telephone appointments or ordering by telephone with delivery.
    3. Can I ask customers to agree to sign a waiver that they are not showing symptoms and they passed my screening?
      Get advice from your attorney about a waiver and if it is legally binding.
    4. How do I protect myself from customers suing or saying they got COVID-19 from my business?
      Discuss this with your attorney. Possible accusations and lawsuits are why it is important for businesses to require that all requirements are followed and recommended protocols are practiced.
    5. If customers come together in a group of six, do they have to be family or household members to sit next to each other?
      To be in a group they should be from the same household.
    6. Can customers sit at the bar if they are spaced 6 feet apart from each other, but are closer than 6 feet to the bartender?
      Yes, bartenders should consistently wear their face coverings.
  4. SALON SPECIFIC
    1. Can health department staff come to salons to see if procedures are being followed and protective measures are good enough?
      The Department of Health does not have enough staff to inspect every business. Follow the guidance to meet the requirements: www.aahealth.org/covid19-guidance-for-barber-shops-and-beauty-salons. If there are questions, email covid19info@aacounty.org or call 410-222-7256.
    2. Should we disinfect waiting room chairs, and if so how often? Is Lysol good enough?
      Disinfecting criteria is included on this guidance: www.aahealth.org/covid19-guidance-for-barber-shops-and-beauty-salons
    3. Does COVID-19 affect the eyes?
      COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and can spread through mucus membranes, which can include the mouth, nose and eyes. Washing your hands frequently and not touching your eyes are important.
    4. If clients have travelled state to state, should they quarantine before getting their hair done?
      The Governor issued a Public Health Advisory (https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/Documents/07.29.2020%20-%20MDH%20Notice%20-%20Out%20of%20State%20Travel%20Advisory.pdf) about travel to certain hot spot states and advised quarantine and getting a COVID-19 test upon return. Ask about travel at the time of setting an appointment and allow 14 days.
    5. Can you clarify the rules on allowing parents of children in for children’s services? Some salons are taking the 1:1 rule seriously and are not allowing parents in with the children.
      For safety, the goal is to limit the number of people in the salon at one time. With minors, there should only be one child/one parent per stylist. If there is a need to bring more than one child, that child or children should be with a second adult outside the salon. It is not recommended to have parents gathering inside the facility. Allow sufficient time in between appointments. Distance clients 6 feet away from other clients. Customers (over 5 years old) and barber/salon staff must wear face coverings, in accordance with the Executive Order of the Governor No. 20-04-15-01, dated April 15, 2020, except when a customer’s face covering would make it impossible for services to be performed.
    6. Should we wear gloves for the entire processes while providing a service including haircuts?
      Gloves are not required for providing services — only for cleaning and disinfection.
    7. If a staff member isn’t feeling great but does not have a fever, or loss of taste or smell, should that employee stay home until tested?
      Sick employees are not recommended to come to work.

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