Mask mandates and recommendations are in almost constant flux across the country. States, counties, and municipalities are updating rules all the time. Below are updates for states in the Employers Council region. Before reading those, however, employers should remember that the OSHA mask standards have not changed. OSHA’s guidance (based on CDC recommendations) continues to highlight the importance of face coverings (masks) in the workplace. Specifically, employers should require the use of face coverings unless their work requires a more protective alternative (i.e. respirator.) OSHA also says employers should provide these face coverings at no cost to workers. At this time, private businesses may want to continue OSHA safety protocols for employees and customers for now.
On May 2, 2021, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued Amended Public Health Order (PHO) 20-38 following Governor Polis’s Executive Order D 2021-095, making changes to mask requirements in public indoor spaces. Public indoor space means any enclosed indoor area that is publicly or privately owned, managed, or operated to which individuals have access by right or by invitation, expressed or implied, and that is accessible to the public, serves as a place of employment, or is an entity providing services. Public indoor space does not mean a person’s residence, including a room in a motel or hotel or a residential room for students at an educational facility.
The order allows for:
- no masking in public indoor spaces if 80% or more of the individuals in a public indoor space have provided proof of vaccination, and
- restaurant employees to not wear masks if 85% of a restaurant’s employees are fully vaccinated.
A spokesperson for the governor said that proof could be in the form of a vaccination card, a picture of the card on a cell phone, or a copy of a person’s immunization records. With that in mind, employers will need to decide whether they want to go the route of requiring employees to prove their vaccination status, as the requirement will have to be applied universally. An honor system will not be sufficient.
Employers are strongly encouraged to provide reasonable work accommodations, including accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for individuals who cannot obtain access to a COVID-19 vaccine or who, for medical or other legal reasons, cannot take a COVID-19 vaccine.
Organizations in the following industries must continue 100% mask-wearing:
- Preschool through grade 12 schools (including extracurricular activities), child care centers and services, and indoor children’s camps;
- Public areas of state government facilities, and areas in state government facilities where members of the public come into contact with state government employees;
- Congregate care facilities, including nursing facilities, assisted living residences, intermediate care facilities, and group homes;
- Emergency medical and other healthcare settings (including hospitals, ambulance service centers, urgent care centers, non-ambulatory surgical structures, clinics, doctors’ offices, and non-urgent care medical structures); Personal services; and
- Limited healthcare settings.
The order expires May 15, 2021, unless further extended or amended. In addition to all the above, counties and municipalities may have stricter requirements, so know your local ordinances as well.
Resources for other states can be found here:
Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order on March 25 lifting all state COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and barring cities and counties from enforcing mask mandates except in government buildings and public transit. Previously, Arizona required face-covering for employees and customers of barbers and cosmetologists, and several jurisdictions, including the state’s largest counties, had full mask orders in place.
Learn more: Read Governor Ducey’s order ending COVID-19 restrictions.
New Mexico has had a mask requirement in place since May 16. Unlike in most states, it applies to people while exercising in gyms, a restriction Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham added in July. She has ordered that the state “aggressively enforce” the rule, with violators subject to a $100 fine and retailers required to ensure customers are wearing masks.
Learn more: Read New Mexico’s mask order.
Utah’s 5-month-old face-covering mandate ended April 10 under state legislation that phases out various COVID-19 public health restrictions. Masks are still required in K-12 schools and at gatherings of 50 or more people where social distancing is not possible. Local governments may set their own mask rules, and face-covering is mandated in public places in Salt Lake City.
Learn more: Read Utah’s state law curbing mask mandates and other pandemic emergency orders.
Gov. Mark Gordon rescinded the state’s 3-month-old mask mandate on March 16. The state health department continues to recommend mask use in public places “when common-sense physical distancing cannot be maintained.” A face-covering requirement remains in place for K-12 schools.
Learn more: Read Wyoming’s latest public health order.
In addition to all the above, counties and municipalities may have stricter requirements, so know your local ordinances as well.