How to Manage Workplace Mask Requirements as Restrictions Lift

Business Management
Rea Regan May 27, 2021 9 min read
How to Manage Workplace Mask Requirements as Restrictions Are Lifted

Quick Guide

    In recent days, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed most of their COVID-19 safety recommendations, especially for individuals who are fully vaccinated.

    The new changes are primarily focused on the mask and social-distancing policies.

    Basically, fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear a mask in outdoor and indoor settings. The CDC said, “You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

    But many business owners and managers are wondering how to continue to ensure the health and safety of their workers and customers. Here’s what we learned.

    What do the New Mask Policies Mean for Workers?

    As stated, the CDC has made it clear that fully vaccinated individuals, and yes this includes employees, can work indoors without a mask safely in many situations. In addition to not being required to social distance or undergo COVID-19 screening procedures. 

    “Of course, CDC guidance is not legally binding and only tells employers what behavior CDC thinks is safe based on [the agency’s] expertise with contagious infections and diseases,” said DC attorney Pierce Blue. Blue also explained that employers in a state or municipality that still have mask and social distancing mandates must continue to follow those same orders. 

    Additionally, employers must stay abreast of what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules require of them. OSHA requires that workplaces are free from known hazards and are always updating their policies. Regarding the latest CDC guidelines on COVID-19 and masks, OSHA is still reviewing what the CDC put out and will update their own materials in due time. 

    “Until those updates are complete, please refer to the CDC guidance for information on measures appropriate to protect fully vaccinated workers,” writes OSHA.

    Additionally, employers worry about asking their own employees if they’re vaccinated. If that applies to you, then read our guide on how to tackle that very situation.

    CDC Guidelines Don’t Apply to Every Industry Either

    If you work in healthcare, retail, transportation, homecare, airports, prisons, and others, then the new CDC guidelines don’t apply to you.

    Stay up to date on CDC guidelines for COVID-19 in the workplace
    Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

    The Retail Leaders Industry Association has come out and said that the new CDC guidelines are more complicated as it puts them and their employees in a difficult situation. 

    Currently, CVS, Walgreens and Macy’s are looking at the new policy before making changes. While Home Depot and Starbucks have said that they don’t plan on removing their mask mandates.

    Looking at State-by-State Mask Recommendations

    This is based on state recommendations and not local recommendations. As always, please visit the CDC and OSHA websites for the most detailed, current information.

    Alabama:

    Statewide, the mask mandate was rescinded on April 9, 2021. However, everyone is still required to social distance. 

    Arizona:

    As of March 25, 2021, masks are not mandated but businesses and employers can still enforce masks if they choose.

    Arkansas:

    Everyone is encouraged to follow the CDC recommendations if vaccinated but businesses must require masks on their premises. In local cases, Arkansas prohibits enforcing mask mandates.

    California:

    The state of California says its current mask requirements will not change until June 15, 2021.

    Colorado:

    Mask requirements vary per setting like in schools or healthcare institutions. Anyone over 11 years of age who isn’t vaccinated is encouraged to wear a mask when indoors. Whereas, those who are vaccinated don’t need to wear a mask. 

    Connecticut:

    If you’re fully vaccinated then you don’t need to wear a mask. However, you do need to wear one if the state health department requires it. 

    Additionally, employers are to be held liable for fines if their employee doesn’t wear a mask at work. 

    Delaware:

    Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask while indoors and outdoors. However, everyone must wear a mask on public transportation, healthcare facilities, and some congregate places.

    District of Columbia:

    Those who are vaccinated, don’t need to wear masks in any setting. Those who are not vaccinated must still wear one. However, everyone must wear a mask in public transportation, schools, healthcare facilities, and other public places.

    Florida:

    Anyone over two years old should wear a mask.

    Georgia:

    Anyone over two years old should wear a mask when social distancing is not possible. 

    Hawaii:

    As of May 25, 2021, masks will not be required outdoors.

    Idaho:

    Employers decide what their mask requirements are for employees and customers. Whereas, all other individuals should follow CDC guidelines based on if they’re vaccinated or not.

    Illinois:

    If you aren’t vaccinated and are over two years of age, then you must wear a mask and social distance. If you are vaccinated, you must wear a mask while in public transportation, in congregate settings, and at healthcare facilities. 

    Businesses are required to provide their employees with masks. 

    Indiana:

    From April 5, 2021, masks are recommended but not required. Anyone over seven must wear a mask indoors but not outdoors. Face masks are still required in a restaurant, a bar, a gym/fitness center, and in personal care services.

    Iowa:

    Individuals are encouraged to follow CDC guidance for masks. The state, however, prohibits local jurisdictions from requiring a mask mandate.

    Kansas:

    Anyone over two years of age should wear a mask indoors. If you’re vaccinated, follow the CDC guidelines.

    Kentucky:

    Masks are still required in certain settings regardless if you’re vaccinated or not like public transportation, in healthcare facilities, schools, and other places as specified. If you’re vaccinated then you don’t need to wear a mask unless it’s specified.  Businesses can choose to still require masks or not. 

    Louisiana:

    As of April 28, 2021, mask mandates were lifted. However, they’re still required on public transportation and a few other social settings. 

    Maine:

    On May 24, 2021, the mask mandate was lifted. Vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear a mask indoors. Businesses can still require masks if they want and can ask for vaccination proof.

    Maryland:

    Anyone who is five or up must wear a mask in public transportation, in schools and in healthcare facilities. 

    Massachusetts:

    From May 29, 2021, the state will follow CDC guidelines.

    Michigan:

    From July 1, 2021, the mask mandate will be lifted. 

    Minnesota:  

    As of May 14, 2021, the mask mandate was lifted. Vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear masks. 

    Mississippi:

    As of March 3, 2021, the mask mandate was lifted. Individuals are encouraged to wear a mask when possible and social distance.

    Missouri:

    Recommends that you wear a mask when you cannot social distance.

    Montana:

    As of February 12, 2021, the mask mandate was lifted.

    Nebraska:

    Recommends you wear a mask when you cannot social distance.

    Nevada:

    Anyone over the age of nine must wear a mask indoors. Businesses must require their employees and customers to wear a mask. Vaccinated individuals are to follow CDC guidelines. 

    New Hampshire:

    As of April 16, 2021, the mask mandate was lifted.

    New Jersey:

    Regardless if you’re vaccinated or not, you must wear a mask indoors but not outdoors. As of May 28, 2021, you don’t need to wear a mask. 

    Businesses should require their employees and clients to wear a mask and be strict about it. 

    New Mexico:

    Everyone should wear a mask in public places unless vaccinated. Businesses must provide their employees with face masks.

    New York:

    New York is following CDC guidelines and recommends that people wear masks outdoors.

    North Carolina:

    Anyone over the age of four should wear masks in public transportation, healthcare facilities, schools, childcare facilities, and other places where specified. Otherwise, it isn’t required, but is recommended for vaccinated individuals.

    North Dakota:

    As of January 18, 2021, the mask mandate was lifted. However, masks are still recommended following CDC guidance.

    Ohio:

    As of June 2, 2021, the mask mandate will be lifted.

    Oklahoma:

    Masks are required when on state property but are only recommended when in public spaces per CDC guidelines.

    Oregon:

    Anyone over four years old must wear a mask indoors. Anyone who is vaccinated does not need to wear a mask unless it’s required in certain places like public transportation. 

    Businesses can still require masks if they choose.

    Pennsylvania:

    Masks are not required when individuals are in non-healthcare settings but only if the CDC’s public health guidance states that no face masks are required. Masks are still required when you’re indoors for anyone two years of age or older.

    Rhode Island:

    Businesses must require that everyone in their company, even customers, wear masks. Anyone over two years of age must wear a mask when indoors. Anyone who is vaccinated doesn’t need to wear a mask unless required by the CDC.

    South Carolina:

    Masks are required for individuals who are not vaccinated. 

    South Dakota:

    Masks must be worn when social distancing is not possible.

    Tennessee:

    Employees should still wear masks at work and individuals should wear one in public places, but it isn’t required.

    Texas:

    As of March 10, 2021, the mask mandate was lifted. However, masks are still recommended.

    Utah:

    As of April 10, 2021, the mask mandate was lifted. Private businesses must have a permit to require masks and masks are required for gatherings of more than 50 people.

    Vermont:

    Anyone over two years old should wear a mask indoors. Businesses should require their team to wear masks. Fully vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear masks, unless required. 

    Virginia:

    Anyone over five years old should wear a mask and employees must still wear one. 

    Washington:

    Masks must be worn when you cannot social distance. Employers must still require their employees to wear a mask. 

    West Virginia:

    As of June 20, 2021, the mask mandate will be lifted.

    Wisconsin:

    Local mandates are still in place as of April 31, 2021. Vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear a mask.

    Wyoming:

    The mask mandate was lifted on March 16, 2021. Masks are still recommended in schools and other large settings. 

    Manage Your Workplace as COVID-19 Guidelines Evolve 

    We strongly recommend that you follow what the CDC recommends and adapt to your business as a result. Additionally, review your state and local recommendations and guidelines as they may differ from what the CDC has said.

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