On May 13th the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) announced that “[f]ully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
The reduced restrictions are both a positive indicator for the Country’s overall path to recovery, and a potential incentive for further adoption of the vaccines.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Not much, if your state or local orders continue to require face coverings and distancing
The new guidance explicitly states that it does not supersede any local rules or regulations, so it is still essential for businesses to check what their state, county, and/or municipality requires, and comply with those requirements.
Your business should consider its own policies
In areas where there are no state or local requirements related to face covering or social distancing, and even in areas where those regulations do exist, businesses should consider what policies they think are appropriate going forward. The CDC guidance and many state orders allow businesses to create their own workplace guidance (provided that it complies with all applicable laws), so businesses should consider the following questions:
- Should fully vaccinated people still be counted when considering how many people should be allowed to occupy a space?
- Should everyone who enters your place of business be required to wear face coverings except when actively eating, drinking, or if there is a medical reason for not wearing one, regardless of whether or not people are vaccinated?
- Should everyone practice social distancing, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated?
The answers to these questions may have employment law implications, so businesses should consider involving employment counsel to evaluate the policies that they plan to implement.
Face coverings are still required on public transit
If your employees use public transit to commute to and from work, consider reminding them that under the new CDC guidance face coverings are still required “on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.”.
In the wake of the announcement, states have had varied reactions. Some have lifted face mask mandates while others have advocated caution, further underscoring the need for businesses to review state and local requirements. Businesses should also consider the expectations and risk tolerance of their employees, customers, and community when implementing their own policies.