Cloth Face Coverings Are Now Required in Anchorage

Stoel Rives - World of Employment
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Stoel Rives - World of Employment

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has issued Emergency Order EO-13, requiring that all individuals in Anchorage wear masks or cloth face coverings when “indoors in public settings or communal spaces outside the home.”  The Order, which took effect on June 29, remains in effect until midnight on July 31 unless revoked or extended.  Settings in which masks or cloth face coverings are required include (but are not limited to) grocery stores, pharmacies, retail stores, restaurants, bars, public transportation, personal care facilities, childcare facilities, communal areas of offices, and elevators and indoor communal spaces in other buildings.

Employers are required to provide masks or cloth face coverings to employees who have direct contact with customers, members of the public, or other employees and are required to ensure that the employees actually wear them.  Several exclusions to the mask requirement apply, including individuals who have a medical condition or disability that would make wearing a mask unsafe or intolerable, individuals who are speech or hearing impaired and use facial or mouth movements to communicate, and individuals performing an activity that cannot be safely conducted while wearing a mask.  An individual declining to wear a mask because of a medical condition or disability is not required to produce medical documentation to support that decision in order to be excluded from the Order’s requirement.  Notably, however, if an employer chooses to have its own mask-wearing requirement in the workplace, the employer may still require an employee to provide medical certification supporting his or her request to be excused from that work rule because of a disability.

The Mayor’s Order has the force and effect of law.  There is a safe harbor for businesses faced with non-compliant customers: the business will not be fined as long as it has a “clearly posted sign informing customers that they are required to wear face coverings.”  One resource for signage is the Alaska DHSS website.  The agency has released a variety of downloadable and printable resources for business owners, including door signage regarding masks, floor decals to encourage social distancing, hand hygiene instructions for restrooms and break rooms, and social media graphics, all of which feature Alaska-themed artwork.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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