COVID19 Guidelines for Employers
Needless to say, there has been a lot of change in both the CDC guidance and Ohio Health Order requirements regarding face covering over the past week. Our interpretation of these changes is specified below, at least as of the date (and time) of the distribution of this COVD-19 Blog posting.
CDC Guidance on Face Coverings (updated May 16, 2021)
- If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
- Fully 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.
- If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, find a vaccine.
Governor DeWine Press Release on Ohio Health Order regarding Face Coverings (updated May 15, 2021)
Below are some key excerpts from Ohio Governor DeWine’s press release issued on Friday, May 14, 2021.
“Ohio will be amending our remaining health orders to comply with the new CDC guidance, which says that those who have been vaccinated no longer need to wear masks, while those who have not been vaccinated should still wear a mask and socially distance."
"The CDC still recommends everyone wear masks when they are in a healthcare setting, when they are travelling on public transportation, including airplanes, and when they are in a business or employer that chooses to require masks. Our order will be amended to reflect these recommendations, as well.”
“The vaccine is our path out of the pandemic, and it is our best protection against the virus. We are on the offense, and the science is unequivocal: Vaccines are our best weapon to fight COVID-19 and save lives!”
“However, not all Ohioans have been vaccinated yet. The June 2nd date I announced for the removal of health orders provided time for those who had not yet gotten their vaccine to get it. While our order will be amended to reflect the new CDC guidance, it will remain in place until June 2nd.”
“Individuals who have not been vaccinated should continue to wear masks pursuant to CDC recommendations. Businesses also have every right to continue to use masks and to require them for employees and customers. The experience in other states has been that some individuals may choose to wear masks, and many businesses, schools, hospitals, and other employers may choose to require masks in their buildings. That will remain their choice.”
Ohio Health Order for Social Distancing, Facial Coverings and Non-Congregating (amended May 17,2021)
Below are some key excerpts from the amended Health Order:
- Facial Coverings (Masks).
a. …all fully vaccinated people (fully vaccinated refers to a person who is ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine) can resume activities without wearing a mask. However, vaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks on all planes, trains, buses and other forms of public transportation.
b. Except as provided herein, all individuals that are not fully vaccinated in the State of Ohio shall wear facial coverings at all times when:
i. In any indoor location that is not a residence;
ii. Outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their family/household; or
iii. Waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, car service, or a ride sharing vehicle. This does not apply to private or rental vehicles where members of a family/household are sharing a vehicle.
c. Exceptions - Please refer to the Health Order link below for all of the exceptions that still apply even for unvaccinated people.
- Congregating. Unless fully vaccinated, individuals must avoid gathering in groups and attempt at all times to maintain social distancing….
- Social Distancing Requirements. …all “fully vaccinated” people can resume activities without socially distancing…. For individuals not fully vaccinated and for purposes of this Order, Social Distancing Requirements include maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals….
Our Interpretation and Recommendations
Now that the Ohio Health Order has been amended to follow current CDC guidance, an employer will still have multiple questions and choices to consider prior to and after the expiration of the Health Order on June 2nd.
Some of the questions and choices that you should be considering at this time are as follows:
- Should we allow at this time all “fully vaccinated” employees to have a 100% choice of their own if and when they do or do not wear a face covering?
- Should we establish certain circumstances if and when even “fully vaccinated” employees will still be required to wear a face covering and social distancing (such as when interacting with the general public)?
- How do we verify and track which employees have or have not been “fully vaccinated”?
- Should we and how do we further encourage non-vaccinated employees to become “fully vaccinated”?
(See our prior COVID blog on vaccines: https://blog.aliniti.com/covid-19/vaccinations)
- How will we monitor and enforce the use of face coverings and social distancing requirements by non-vaccinated employee’s, at least through the expiration of the Ohio COVID19 Health Orders on June 2, 2021?
- Should we continue to require non-vaccinated employees to wear a face-covering and/or maintain social distancing even after the expiration the COVID19 Ohio Health Orders on June 2, 2021 and even require vaccinated employee’s do so under certain circumstances?
- What will our face covering policy be for visitors or customers of our business when they enter our place of business prior to and after June 2nd, 2021?
While we may not have directly answered the questions above, as you as an employer now have flexibility in the choices you can make, we of course will be glad to review and discuss your options with you. In addition, we can assist as needed in creating appropriate COVID19 related working guidelines or policies.
The above employer considerations are based upon the current guidelines regarding COVID 19 vaccinations. As the vaccine is not yet fully available and the guidelines issued by the EEOC, CDC, etc. are periodically updated and evolving, questions regarding any employee vaccination policy must be carefully reviewed. The EEO laws do not interfere with or prevent employers from following CDC or other federal, state, and local public health authorities’ guidelines and suggestions.