After the Governor’s announcement on Monday that both customers and employees would have to wear masks when inside a business, there were a lot of questions and concerns raised by both businesses and consumers. Businesses were concerned about how to police customers not wearing masks as well as employment situations where it is not legal, advisable, safe or practical for employees to wear face coverings. There were a significant number of consumers who contacted the Governor’s office to express their outrage over a mandate to wear face coverings in business settings.
In response to the level of consumer anger, yesterday the Governor retracted his Monday announcement requiring customers to wear face coverings, but strongly recommended that they voluntarily do so. He did, however, preserve the right of individual businesses to require them. He also confirmed the requirement for employees to wear face coverings while at work. Unfortunately, the announcement did not provide guidance for employers in the situations previously mentioned.
Working with the Lt. Governor, we were able to secure some guidance for employers regarding exceptions from the requirement that employees wear face coverings, which was announced during today’s press conference. Those exceptions include:
- When an employee in a particular position is prohibited by a law or regulation from wearing a mask while on the job;
- When wearing a mask on the job is against documented industry best practices;
- When wearing a mask is not advisable for health purposes;
- When an employee is sitting alone in an enclosed workspace; and
- When there is a practical reason a mask cannot be worn by an employee.
For each instance where an exception is utilized by an employer on behalf of one or more employees, written justification for the exception(s) must be provided to the local health department upon request. It is advisable to also have documentation available that supports the exception being claimed such as a copy of the applicable law or regulation, information from an industry manual, a letter from a doctor, etc.
While the actual language of the order has still not been made available, it is helpful to obtain a greater degree of certainty regarding face coverings and who must (and who should) wear them.
If you have any questions, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 614-221-7833.