US | COVID-19 | CDC Releases Decision Tree for Reopening Workplaces

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a decision tree to help workplaces determine whether they should reopen. The decision tree focuses especially on protecting vulnerable workers. CDC recommends that employers check with state and local health officials to determine the most appropriate actions, while considering their local community’s needs.

The decision tree is a three-step process that consists of health and safety actions and ongoing monitoring elements. These should be followed sequentially before a workplace considers reopening.

1. Considering Reopening

Employers should determine whether reopening is consistent with state and local orders. They should also assess whether they are ready to protect employees at higher risk for severe illness. Only if both criteria are met should employers move forward with reopening.

2. Health and Safety Actions

Implementing health and safety actions are the next consideration. If any of the following are not met, CDC does not recommend reopening.

  • Promote healthy hygiene practices such as hand washing and employees wearing a cloth face covering.
  • Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation.
  • Encourage social distancing and enhance spacing between employees, including through physical barriers, changing the layout of spaces, encouraging telework, closing or limiting access to communal spaces, staggering shifts and breaks, and limiting large events.
  • Consider modifying travel and commuting practices and promote telework for employees who do not live in the local area, if feasible.
  • Train all employees on health and safety protocols.

3. Ongoing Monitoring

CDC recommends implementing all of the following before reopening.

  • Develop and implement procedures to check for signs and symptoms of employees daily upon arrival, as feasible.
  • Encourage anyone who is sick to stay home.
  • Plan for if an employee gets sick.
  • Regularly communicate and monitor developments with local authorities and employees.
  • Monitor employee absences and have flexible leave policies and practices.
  • Be ready to consult with the local health authorities if there are cases in the facility or an increase in cases in the local area.


If all requirements are met, CDC believes it is acceptable to reopen. After reopening, continue to monitor developments in the workplace and community.



CDC, Workplaces During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Decision Tool


LinkedIn COVID-19 Expert Forum

Join our LinkedIn discussion group, COVID-19 HSE Red-on-line Experts Forum, to share your experiences and best practices relative to the novel coronavirus with fellow EHS professionals and the Red-on-line team.