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Tech Companies Advise EU On Re-Opening Guidelines

As the European Union contemplates the best way to start reopening businesses, tech advocate ITI has some recommendations on how to harmonize that process to protect public health and worker safety. 

That guidance was provided in letters to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel. 

Related: COVID-19 Crisis Hits TV Industry

ITI said the EU will need to coordinate the process to avoid a patchwork of policies and with a focus on "assessing readiness; health monitoring; transmission mitigation techniques; and employee support." 

It also said that since the pandemic is a moving target, the "consistent, scientific, and data-driven recommendations" must be reviewed and updated to meet the moment. 

While it is focused on the tech sector--its members include internet companies, hardware and networking equipment manufacturers, and software developers--ITI said the following guidelines apply to businesses large and small across all industries: 

1. "Assessing readiness: A checklist of considerations prior to reopening would enhance employee and consumer confidence while mitigating transmission of the virus.  

2. "COVID-19 screening: General guidance on reliable screening methods would encourage the widest possible deployment of employer-based screening. 

3. "COVID-19 testing: Flexible testing guidance would give companies the ability to adopt testing measures based on the safety needs of their workforce. 

4. "Physical changes to office environments to enable social distancing: Space planning guidance, addressing for example how to reconfigure cubical or open workspace environments, and mitigate transmission risk in shared spaces. 

5. "Alternative mitigation strategies where social distancing is infeasible: Alternative mitigation guidance where workspaces do not lend themselves to retrofitting or job functions prevent social distancing.  

6. "Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or face coverings: Guidance on who is responsible for providing PPE or face coverings, and whether an employer may require employees to provide their own face coverings in an environment that does not require PPE. 

7. "High risk or vulnerable employees: Guidance on risk profiling and related privacy obligations; describe what responsibilities, accommodations, or protocols particularly susceptible employees trigger; and how to encourage these individuals to appropriately protect themselves. 

8. "Sanitation and disinfectant protocols: Guidance on sanitation and disinfectant protocols as offices reopen and after a confirmed COVID-19 exposure occurs. 

9. "In-person gathering restrictions: Guidance on what restrictions on in-person gatherings will persist will benefit employers, employees, and individuals alike. 

10. "Contact tracing: A clear set of protocols for data processing among private entities and local public health agencies – as well as across borders- to enable interoperability and data sharing among bordering Member States and closely situated localities.  

11. "Compliance: Guidance on how to best encourage and ensure compliance with public-health driven guidelines by employees and customers. 

12. "Mobility guidance: Clarity with regards to intra-EU mobility prospects, along the lines of the recent and very helpful European Commission Guidelines concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers during COVID-19 outbreak. 

13. "Balancing health and safety and COVID-19 related family circumstances: Guidance on how to balance workplace re-openings, health and safety concerns, and COVID-19 family circumstances."