CINCINNATI — Some local businesses are eager to implement new CDC recommendations for isolating when a staff member is asymptomatic but COVID-19 positive.
According to the new guidance, people who test positive for COVID-19 only need to isolate for five days if they are asymptomatic at that point. That period should be followed by five days of masking. Those exposed to COVID-19 who are vaccinated and have received a booster shot do not need to quarantine under the new guidelines.
Some local business owners said this will be good for keeping businesses open.
“For us it was good news, really, because it gets employees back to work quicker after employees have been exposed or tested positive,” said Dan Busken, president and CEO of Busken Bakery.
He said this could’ve helped earlier during the pandemic when the business had to shut down for two days because too many workers were sick or exposed to COVID-19. Busken also believes this will be good for employees.
“Some people who have been exposed never have any symptoms and they’re out of work five to seven days. It’s hard on them because it impacts take-home pay," he said.
The changes to the policy were released Monday following more information on when the virus is most transmittable.
In a statement on the CDC website, the agency wrote, “The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.”
Tony Castelli, marketing director for Earth and Ocean Restaurant Group, said the change will help their business and employees, too.
“I think it makes a big difference across the board. I think it makes a big difference with morale, with operations, with planning, with staffing. With anything any restaurant or any business needs to do,” he said.
Castelli said the group has handled staff shortages throughout the pandemic by making sure employees are cross-trained in other positions.
“We lose a server, we have mangers who love serving,” he said.
He believes the change in isolation period will actually make the workplace safer, making more people willing to get tested if they’ve been exposed because there is less fear of a long quarantine.
“I know that I don’t want to take 10 days off work,” he said. “(A lot of people) have a lot of trepidation about not feeling sick but they know someone who is sick, so do I go get a covid test or not? A lot of people didn’t feel comfortable doing it because they didn’t want to take the mandatory 10-day quarantine.”
The change in policy hasn't been without criticism. Many believe the new rules will encourage businesses to trade the health of their employees to make more money, but Castelli disagreed.
“It’s very short-sighted for businesses to sacrifice or overlook the overall health of their staff or their guests in order to make a quick buck on the day that they found out someone is ill or not feeling well. We’ve always done the utmost to make sure our staff and customers feel comfortable,” he said.
Busken ensured customers safety is his top priority, too.
“We just want all customers to know that we’re doing everything we can, just like all food establishments, to sanitize and keep our employees healthy. And we always err on the side of caution, so if someone even feels remotely sick, we are sending them home immediately. If they call in and are exposed, they will not be coming to work that day,” said Busken.