Are you really ready to open?

Ohio is getting ready to open, are you? With some business sectors opening this week and beyond, it’s time to truly evaluate if your business is ready to function in the current environment and how you can prepare for your own opening.

After sitting in on countless virtual seminars for the travel industry, the Destination Mansfield-Richland County team has put together a list of best practices to help you open successfully and stay open. Are you ready to change the way you do business? Travel industry experts fully expect this “next normal” to last for 12-18 months.

The Big Challenge: Enforcing Mandatory and Suggested Protocols

Governor DeWine has officially released the state’s Protocols for Consumer, Retail, and Services as part of the Responsible RestartOhio program. Following these guidelines transparently will improve consumer confidence in your business and reduce your liability. The text highlighted in red are mandatory protocols for Responsible RestartOhio. This information has been shared with Richland Public Health to ensure our recommendations are accurate and appropriate.

Important questions to answer before opening:

How will you keep 6’ of distance at all times?
Social distancing will be a mandatory requirement for RestartOhio.

  • Solutions:
    • Staggered entry for customers and staggering start times, lunch times, breaks for each employee.
    • Limit the capacity of your business – 50% of fire code.
    • Placing 6’ markers on the floor where lines form or people interact face-to-face.
    • Barriers must be placed where 6’ of distance is not possible.

How will you reduce contact as much as possible?
Minimizing contact between people will be essential to stopping the spread of the virus. Keep employees healthy by reducing contact between customers.

  • Solutions:
    • Train employees to minimize contact. Roll play with staff members to walk through a visit. See where the touchpoints are and if things need to be modified so they can be easily cleaned or if they can be removed altogether.
    • Focus on the “employee/vendor/customer journey.” What will they come in contact with? What will need to be cleaned after each use? What can be removed to eliminate touchpoints?
    • Consider a paperless environment- ie: no receipts. Use digital receipts. Allow guest to take photos of maps instead of handing them out.
    • Eliminate self-service stations and product samples.
    • Eliminate switchback lines. Use straight lines.
    • Not every building on your property needs to be open at the start. (Note: Attractions may have to adjust admission pricing due to changed experience.)
    • Place barriers where guests’ interactions can’t be eliminated.
    • Place barriers between workstations.
    • Specify hours for at-risk customers.
    • Provide face coverings upon entry.
    • Where possible, accept customers by appointment only.
    • Increase availability for curb-side pickup.
    • Consider suspending return policies.

What will your cleaning and sanitizing process look like?
Employers must mandate regular hand washing, place hand sanitizers in high-contact locations, and clean high-touch items after each use. Stores must also clean merchandise before stocking, if possible. What is your sanitizing and cleaning process and schedule? Which employees will be assigned to this process?

  • Solutions
    • Train and assign employees to clean and sanitize workplace throughout, and at the end of, each day.
    • Clean shared objects after each use.
    • Closing once a week for deep cleaning is recommended.

How will we make sure employees stay home when sick?
According to the governor’s orders, employees must stay home if they are symptomatic.

  • Solutions:
    • Employees must perform daily symptom self-evaluation to make sure they are fit for duty.
    • Temp Checks at work are not required, but employees should take their temperature during their self-evaluation
    • Update policy manual on how long to keep sick employees home.

Have you sourced Personal Protection Equipment and cleaning supplies?
Masks will be mandatory for all employees of consumer, retail, and service businesses. Look for supplies now to have available when you reopen, this includes hand sanitizer for employees and customers, disinfectant wipes, disinfectant spray, toilet paper, etc. It’s been suggested that businesses have three weeks of supplies on hand. Most local businesses are providing masks for their employees. Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development has put together a list of local suppliers: Local Cleaning Supplies & PPE Supplier List.

How will you communicate expectations and procedures to customers?
Masks aren’t required for customers, but businesses are allowed to require them or deny entry to customers without masks.

  • Solutions
  • State clearly what a customer can expect when dealing and interacting with you.
  • Post your updated policies on your website. Tell them step-by-step what will happen when they interact with your business.
  • Post clear signage on health safety guidelines.
  • Post social distancing signage.

Furthermore, how will you communicate what steps you are taking to reassure your future customers/attendees that you have their well-being in mind? How will you give them the confidence to show up at your business?

  • Share what you’re doing to protect customers on your website and social media. Place signage at door and inside your business, including what protocols you are following.
  • Consider cleaning in front of customers – this will help ease their fears.
  • Obtain a certificate from your health official that your property is safe.

Further reading

Are you Ready?

There’s that question again. After considering all the information, do you have a plan? Write it down. It will become your roadmap to your future that can be changed as needed. You could be one of the first forward thinkers to get the job done. Destination Mansfield – Richland County would love to see some tourism plans. Send yours to

Up Next

We have reached out to our members to see what their plans are for reopening. We plan to share our findings to inspire local businesses and to bring confidence to the traveling public. We will also share what we have learned with our local health department to get their feedback on the decisions and creative solutions of our tourism businesses. Keep an eye out for our “Clean is the New Green” initiative.