Businesses have been cautiously reducing their safety protocols as state and federal governments remove mandatory safety measures in response to CDC guidance. This is the first time that businesses have done so for their customers and employees. National retailers such as Costco, Walmart and Target have made it clear that customers who have been vaccinated are not required to wear masks. Many have also dropped the requirement that employees be vaccinated. However, employees at Trader Joe’s are still required to wear masks. These retailers do not require proof of vaccination before entry. However, they operate on an honor system that requires unvaccinated people to wear masks while inside their stores.
The CDC guidance states “fully vaccinated persons no longer need to wear a face mask or physically distance from any setting, except where required under federal, state or local, tribal, or territory laws, rules and regulations,” but this only applies to those who have been vaccinated.
Businesses can use industry practices and current guidelines to help them decide what policies they want. This will allow them to make the best decisions for their customers and employees. These considerations can be helpful in helping businesses navigate these unfamiliar waters.
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Understanding the requirements of specific state legislation or local ordinances
Each state and local ordinance may apply to a business’s policy. There are currently many pieces of legislation in the works that would prohibit businesses from asking questions about their vaccination status, or requiring verification. Colorado and Connecticut have both proposed legislation that would allow citizens to sue employers who take adverse actions against employees who decline to vaccinate. This provision could be a popular option for customers and employees who are left behind.
Provide Clear Communication
Businesses should clearly indicate the entry requirements at their stores when they adjust their policies. Businesses have the right to request that customers or employees don’t wear masks, except where an exception applies. Many customers and employees are still concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 when they work or visit a business. It’s vital that businesses demonstrate that they take safety seriously and communicate any changes in policies.
Find out if you will need proof of vaccination
HIPAA doesn’t protect vaccination status as it isn’t considered protected medical data. Businesses can request any type of proof of vaccination that they wish. Both customers and employees can use the same process for verification. To gain entry to the country or obtain employment, you will need to provide the original vaccine card, a copy or a photograph of the card. Customers and employees can also sign an attestation form confirming their vaccination status. Notices and warnings should be posted at the entrances to retail stores. These notices should clearly state the entry requirements and guidelines.
Some companies may require employees to have a vaccine in order to continue working. However, there are exceptions to comply with federal or state laws such as Title VII and ADA. Walmart, the largest retailer chain in America, has announced a bonus to associates who are vaccinated. However, it is not making it a condition of employment. Businesses should have a policy that outlines their procedures and ensures employees are aware of any changes. The policy should be applied universally and businesses should also be clear about the possible consequences for violating it.
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Bloomingdale’s opens new small store concept, Bloomie’s
Bloomingdale’s has announced that it will utilize the well-known nickname Bloomie’s to open a new location in Fairfax, Virginia on August 26. Fans of the original luxury department store chain Bloomie’s have used the term Bloomie’s for decades as an affectionate term. This 22,000-square-foot area will be smaller than the typical Bloomingdale’s store, which can cover upwards of 200,000 square footage. The store will be a place to share experiences with fashion-focused customers. It will also feature Colada Shop which serves coffee, Caribbean-inspired snacks and cocktails until late at night. The Bloomies will provide alterations and a drop box for returns. They also offer appointments with stylists.
Total Retail’s Consideration: Bloomingdale’s is a department store chain owned by Macy’s Inc. and is trying to diversify its offerings to appeal to younger customers. After the success of Nordstrom Local stores which offer similar services as Bloomie’s, Bloomingdale’s is putting more emphasis on services. This includes in-store returns for items purchased online and product alterations. As other luxury department players such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, have decreased their store count or closed down altogether, this competition will increase for market share. If the small-format store test is successful, you can expect additional Bloomie’s stores to open along with similar Macy’s offerings.
“Bloomingdale’s provides us with higher prices points but it’s also a test platform to innovate, share and the application of our lessons learned across all our brands,” Jeff Gennette, CEO Macy’s Inc., told analysts during a earnings conference call in May.
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