State to investigate complaints of businesses not producing safety plans to reopen

Businesses caught without a COVID-19 action plan or not following the state’s safety suggestions on how to reopen could be investigated by Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Enforcement Response Team.

Under Holcomb’s latest executive order issued Friday, employers are required to develop safety plans for employees and customers by May 11.

The plans must address employee health screenings, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting policies, and the availability of hand sanitizer or hand-washing supplies. They also must include rules for social distancing that keep employees and customers at least six feet apart, or, if that’s not possible, use other methods of separation, such as barriers or face masks.

The plan must be shared with employees and available to the public.

Joe Heerens, the governor’s general counsel, said Monday that if the state received a complaint of an employer that did not create an action plan or isn’t following the safety recommendations, the Enforcement Response Team would investigate the situation.

“And, if in fact there was a violation, they would have a verbal warning first and then it would escalate from there,” Heerens said.

In April, Holcomb established the Enforcement Response Team, which is led by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, to respond to complaints about businesses violating his executive orders.

As of Thursday, the enforcement team had investigated more than 1,200 complaints, which resulted in 115 verbal warnings. No cease-and-desist letters have been issued.

Any businesses not complying with the order is first issued a verbal warning, then the Indiana State Department of Health issues an order to cease the unsafe practice. If the business continues to be in violation, the health department can issue an order to close the business. If that occurs, the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office will be notified to suspend any relevant licenses and the issue will be sent to the local prosecutor for consideration.

Holcomb announced a five-stage plan to reopen the state on Friday. The administration is encouraging companies to continue to have employees work from home, whenever possible, but as of Monday, retailers in most Indiana counties were allowed to open but limit capacity to 50%.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets in {{ count_down }} days.