Florida restaurant employees can return to work now without a coronavirus test

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A Thursday executive order signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted the requirement of restaurant employees to pass two coronavirus tests before returning to work.

This amendment marks a significant change to the March 17 executive order, which authorized the Department of Business and Regulation to prohibit any employee who meets “criteria indicative of concerns related to COVID-19” from returning to work unless two negative test results are shown to the employer, according to the order.

Replacing the test results are “employee screening protocols” based on suggestions by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

The current screening protocols mentioned in the order asks employers to “actively encourage employees who are sick or have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay home.” New CDC guidelines also reduced the once 14-day quarantine recommendation to 10 days.

The CDC cites the lightened restrictions as an aid in reducing the unnecessary use of laboratory resources. The CDC still recommends non-healthcare professional businesses require face coverings, social distancing and frequent hand washing and cleaning procedures.

Many Tampa Bay restaurants temporarily closed over the summer after employees tested positive for coronavirus. It should be noted that the restaurants were not required to close and were under no requirement to disclose that an employee tested positive.

The newly relaxed requirements for workers means a speedier process in getting once-sick workers back into restaurants.

This story originally appeared in our sister paper Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
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