Mask Or No Mask? CDC’s New Mask Guidance

Kerr Russell
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Kerr Russell

On Thursday, May 13, 2021, the CDC issued a new mask guidance. Effective immediately, individuals who have been fully vaccinated may resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

Following the issuance of the CDC guidance, Michigan announced that it would revise its State mask restrictions which were not otherwise affected by the CDC guidance. Specifically, Governor Whitmer announced that Michigan’s mask regulations, as provided by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (“MDHHS”) will be eased for fully vaccinated individuals effective Saturday, May 15th at 9 a.m., to align with new CDC guidance.

At present no further guidance has been issued by the State other than the Governor’s press release. Further official guidance is expected.

The CDC guidance relaxed other non-mask related COVID-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals, including:

  • Permitting the resumption of domestic travel and eliminating the testing requirements before or after travel and self-quarantine after travel for fully vaccinated individuals.
  • Eliminating the testing requirement before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and eliminating self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States for fully vaccinated individuals.
  • Eliminate the COVID-19 testing requirement for fully vaccinated individuals following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings.
  • Eliminating the requirement for fully vaccinated individuals to quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
  • Eliminating routine screening testing requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.

Michigan employers should keep in mind, however, that Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“MIOSHA”) has Emergency Rules which impose certain mask requirements upon employers. Specifically, MIOSHA still requires all employers to provide non-medical grade face coverings to their employees, to require face coverings to be worn when employees cannot consistently maintain 6 feet of separation from other individuals in the workplace and to require face coverings in shared spaces, including during in-person meetings and in restrooms and hallways.

Employers should also review any local laws or orders which may be applicable pertaining to face mask requirements.

Recommendation

As MIOSHA’s Emergency Rules are still applicable, Michigan employers should continue to require employees to follow MIOSHA’s mask restrictions for all individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated, to assure that they are providing a safe workplace under applicable safety requirements until MIOSHA revies it emergency notice to eliminate mask requirements. In addition, Michigan employers should continue to conduct COVID-19 screening assessments for all individuals, whether fully vaccinated or not, entering a workplace.

Employers with workers in other states should review applicable federal, state, and local mask restrictions in those states and should not assume that the CDC requirements relieve them of obligations regarding same.

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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