NYC Phase 2: How to Reopen Your Business Safely and Effectively

A guided walkthrough of retail and restaurant guidelines from LA and NYC.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

(Information has been sourced from this and has been condensed)

Major cities are beginning to shift into Phase II, but what are the regulations business must follow? We examined guidelines from NY and LA to give you an idea of what you should expect to do in your pop-up or long term rental space. Regardless of if your space is currently located in these areas or not, these health and safety measures are important to note. When the time comes for your area to reopen, we want you to be ready.

“We know how to shop safer, we have learned a lot about social distancing, wearing our masks and making sure that we follow the protocols for washing our hands, but it’s time to make sure we don’t punish our local stores and begin to fortify, again, our main streets.” — Eric Garcetti (Mayor of Los Angeles)

Retailers must establish a clear, written worksite prevention plan. This includes:

  • Contact information for local health departments
  • Clear communication of the plan to employees
  • Providing the appropriate training to employees

You might be asking yourself “What should be part of the plan?” or “What do my employees need to be trained on?” (or maybe it’s a mix of both). So, let’s get started.

How to Train Your Employees

All employees should be aware of how COVID-19 is spread, and which underlying health conditions increase susceptibility.

Employees should participate in self-screening to monitor their symptoms.

  • Retailers should emphasize the importance of staying home if exhibiting symptoms (symptoms include: consistent coughing, fever, muscle fatigue, difficulty breathing, sore throat, and loss of taste and/or smell) and the importance of washing their hands frequently and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
  • No sink? No problem. CDC guidelines encourage employees to use 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol hand sanitizer in these cases.

Although the retail and dining locations have reopened, employees should still be mindful of their space in and out of work. This means abiding by the previous standards of physical distancing. Employees should continue to use face coverings that are provided by the company. Disposable gloves are not required but recommended. If your business is a restaurant or foodservice establishment, employees are required to wear face coverings and those that are bussing tables are highly encouraged to wear gloves and change them frequently.

What to Do In Your Physical Space

Retailers and restaurants should post appropriate signage to alert employees and customers of the importance of facial coverings. These signs should be clear to understand and visible to all parties. Graphics enhance the message (more on this to come).


As discussed in How to Improve your In-Store Customer Experience, cleanliness should always be a standard — but it is time to amp it up.

All entrance and exit points (including storefront, checkout, and changing rooms) should have proper sanitation products. High traffic areas and common surfaces should undergo an intensive, thorough cleaning. Every point of touch is a point to clean. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of products approved for use in fighting COVID-19. This list should be consulted before making any product decisions.

If possible, stores should install portable air cleaners or see if their current system can be updated. The goal is to increase ventilation, limit stagnant air, and achieve air filtration at the highest efficiency.

To guarantee maximum cleanliness, it is recommended that restaurants use single-use menus, condiments, and silverware. However, if this is not possible, ensure all of the above are regularly clean for the safety of both your guests and employees.

Set your employees up for success!

To ensure best practices, retailers and restaurants should supply their employees with the appropriate materials.

All employees working directly with the public or frequently touched, shared surfaces should be provided with personal hand sanitizers and face coverings. The business should implement hands-free (automatic) trash bins, hand soaps, payment systems, and motion lights where possible. Employees should also be given enough time off the floor to perform proper personal sanitation techniques. Employees should also have time built into their scheduled working hours to perform the planned cleaning practices.

There should be limitations on the number of employees allowed in a specific area at once. To help this, employee breaks should be staggered.

Guiding Customers

Although businesses cannot control the actions of their customers, they should be guided in the right direction. This direction includes the recommendation of wearing a face covering. Proper signage should be posted to remind customers of this and to also frequently clean their reusable bags. When using reusable bags, customers are required to bag their own purchases. Customers should also be encouraged to pay by credit or debit card to limit the number of points of contact. With restaurants, customers should be encouraged to put their names on a waiting list via a texting service, as the guidelines prohibit the use of devices that provide alerts to customers. These steps will protect both the customer and the employees.


The physical distancing of at least 6 feet should remain in practice. This is something that both you and your customers can control. For restaurants, tables and seating must be 6 feet apart, and if this distance is impossible, physical barriers should be put in place. Beyond the outside seating, restaurants must ensure that if a customer needs to enter the indoor space for the restroom, to order, or pick-up food, socially distancing must be possible and clearly signaled. Distancing can be displayed through signage and/or floor markings of where employees and customers should stand. This is where brands can get creative by using their brand voice to convey this information. For example, floor markings can be in the brand’s colors or even objects that resonate with the brand’s image (ex: shoe stickers for a footwear brand, barefoot imprint stickers for a natural brand).

Tips on Signage

It has been said over and over again to use signage to convey these recommendations and procedures, but what makes effective signage?

In marketing, there is an ideology called the rule of 7. This idea states that your desired target (in this case, your customers) must see your offer (your sign) at least 7 times before they fully process and take action on the information being given. This can provide needed insight on where to place your signs, and how spaced out they should be:

  • There should be signage upon entering and exiting the location. There should also be signage when entering and exiting shared facilities such as changing rooms and restrooms. Signage should be placed around checkout areas and sporadically throughout shelving.

Red is a powerful, attention-grabbing color that you may want to use in your signage. Even if you are planning on using your brand colors to fit the aesthetic of your space, it is wise to include red in some way. This could be as a graphic or even as a border. When a customer sees red, their brain is signaled to pay attention. But, be careful — too much red can be overwhelming so you may want to use colors that compliment (orange, yellow, white, and black) to break up the visuals.

Speaking of visuals, we’ve all heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Adding graphics to visually display your written message can make your message clearer, more digestible, and easier to understand at a glance.

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