How companies navigate post-pandemic social norms

A handshake or a nudge? Mask yourself whenever you feel sick?

As daily case rates in northern Michigan tend to drop and vaccinations reach more people, what social behaviors developed during COVID-19 will persist after the pandemic?

For business owners, Nikki Devitt, president of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, said navigating new social norms means keeping the needs of employees and customers in mind.

“A lot of the companies we spoke with really stick to what they started from the beginning, which is to be aware as much as possible of the needs of their customers and employees, and also to support security. of their employees, ”said Devitt. “So while everything has been removed over the last week when it comes to mask warrants and social distancing and guidelines for gatherings, a lot of companies still really take the time to respect and understand that some people are still going to be a little more hesitant in social situations… We’ve heard stories about it and we’ve seen it in action in our businesses. So keep pushing those little touches to give people that level of comfort if they need it. “

Michigan ended most COVID-19 restrictions late last month, which means businesses are back to 100% capacity. Wearing a mask, regardless of vaccination status, is no longer mandatory in most situations. But, companies and workplaces can always adopt their own rules and there are separate restrictions on travel and places like prisons, hospitals or nursing homes.

“I think the biggest questions companies have asked themselves, which we’ve been talking about over the past three to six weeks in this time frame, are what operations should be put in place not just to mitigate any potential potential. spread of the virus, so making sure they are using their PPE correctly, making sure they have the correct signage and distance, ”said Devitt,“ But as the regulations have changed, what is the best practice? ? What is the best customer service policy to put in place? “

Nikki devitt

Questions about how best to protect vulnerable populations – including children too young to be vaccinated or those with weakened immune systems – coupled with new concerns about the spread of the Delta variant could mean retaining certain pandemic behaviors even for long periods of time. those who are vaccinated.

State officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, but the World Health Organization recently urged everyone – vaccinated or not – to continue to wear masks, socially distance themselves, and practice other mitigation measures in light of the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

“We strongly urge those who are not fully vaccinated to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Lisa Peacock, health officer at the Northwestern Michigan Department of Health, in a press release from the 24th. June. “All three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and J&J – have been shown to be safe and effective against this new variant, which is highly transmissible and particularly risky for unvaccinated people. “

Even with declining case rates in northern Michigan and the Department of Health report, as of June 29, 109,925 total doses of vaccine administered in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties, Devitt said that businesses would react and adapt if the situation changed.

“You can activate any national news right now and they’ll be talking about the Delta variant and the possibilities for return restrictions, so I think what you’re going to see is that flexibility with companies to adapt to. any situation. and what calls them, “Devitt said.” But, you’re also going to see some of these social behaviors sticking out. Many organizations that do programming or event planning are finding ways to make it happen. adapt to their audience.If it’s a hybrid option, if it’s smaller settings for people who are going to… develop those habits that they’ve learned over the past year and a half and keep them, so companies are very aware of what people want and pay attention to them. “

About Marjorie C. Hudson

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