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Employers starting to ask: When and how can people safely return to the workplace?

RADIO.COM logo RADIO.COM 5/11/2021 Jim Melwert
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As more people get vaccinated and COVID-19 case counts decline, employers are starting to think about when and how to safely get their workers back in the office.

Darren Mareiniss, an emergency medicine physician at Einstein Medical Center, said the vast majority of transmission of the virus is through the air, so masking and good ventilation are crucial before returning to work.

“One of the highest risk areas is going to be the common break room where people are going to take their masks off and eat,” he said. “You have to be, again, cognizant about cross-ventilation and really sweeping the air.”

He said it’s tricky to come up with a one-size-fits-all plan, as every workplace is different. Employers also need a plan for employees who test positive, and they need to define the point that would trigger going back to remote work.

Chester County Health Director Jeanne Franklin advises against bringing every back at the same time.

“If you know you need all your workforce back in, then stagger it and monitor it, similar to what we did with schools,” she recommended.

Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh said vaccinations are crucial to safely get back to work.

“The most important thing is that people get vaccinated,” she said. “The more people who get vaccinated, the safer every workplace will be.”

Many businesses have had employees back on location out of necessity, but they have done so safely.

“It’s certainly going to be important to continue wearing masks and maintaining social distancing for any business that is intending to bring people back right now,” she added.

As for getting to work, SEPTA Regional Rail service has been limited during the pandemic, but transit officials are talking with some of the bigger employers to get an idea of when they should start ramping up service.

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