PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading just as people are packing stores filled with seasonal workers. That combination has led to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issuing new recommendations businesses should take to keep workers and customers safe.
This is expected to be a record-breaking shopping season, but OSHA is urging everyone to keep their guards up to stay safe.READ MORE: Philadelphia Police Officer Has Strong Message For Son's Killers After Hyram Hill Killed In Targeted Shooting
“Right from the beginning of the whole pandemic, it’s kind of just built over time and supporting small is really important,” Villavillekula owner Beth Milley said.
Milley opened the doors to Villavillekula, a children’s shop in Chestnut Hill, eight years ago.
“There’s a huge outpouring of support, especially from this community,” Milley said.
Klair McGlynn has been shopping at the shop on Germantown Avenue since the beginning. She has eight grandchildren to buy gifts for.
“Every time a child is born, I’m in here,” McGlynn said. “I have a baby shower on Saturday and this is where I go because they’re always adorable.”
The Small Business Association says small businesses account for 44% of economic activity in the United States, and they create two-thirds of new jobs in the country. Now, OSHA is making sure customers and workers stay safe.READ MORE: Manor College Students Past, Present 'Very Angry And Frustrated' About Ukraine-Russia Tensions
“With the busy season happening right now, we want to keep in mind that there’s still hazards at the workplace,” Theresa Downs, the area director of OSHA’s Philadelphia office, said.
Last shopping season, many stores in Philadelphia and elsewhere had capacity limits and mask requirements. Depending on where customers live, that may not be the case this year.
OSHA is reminding businesses to maintain proper social distancing and cleaning measures, and provide masks for workers.
“We want to make sure that people going to work are safe and go back home healthy,” Downs said.
As businesses like Born Yesterday in Rittenhouse Square return to more normal times, owner Jessica Mersky says the hope is the good times continue safely.
“Things are trending upward,” Mersky said. “People are happy to be out and shopping, spending money on things that they love.”MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Police Officer Injured After Being Dragged By Vehicle During Traffic Stop: Police
There are just 17 days left in the holiday shopping season.