As Mask Mandates Are Lifted, Employers Should Proceed with Caution

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Patricia Tsipras

May 14, 2021

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance in non-healthcare settings for fully-vaccinated people, allowing them to resume many indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask and without social distancing.  But proceed with caution: you still must abide by federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

In Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf has announced that he intends to lift COVID-19 mitigation orders – except masking – on Memorial Day at 12:01 AM.  The Governor intends to lift the mask mandate when 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 or older are fully vaccinated.  As of May 10, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that approximately 45% of adult Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated.

So what is a Pennsylvania employer to do?

Do not be quick to lift your mask mandate.  Remember:

  • The CDC’s guidance applies only to fully-vaccinated people and, even if fully vaccinated, people with a health condition or who are taking medication that weakens the immune system still may need to take all precautions to prevent contracting COVID-19.
  • The CDC’s guidance does not apply equally to every industry.
  • The CDC’s guidance does not trump other federal, state, or local guidance.  Specifically, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not lifted its workplace guidance regarding masking.
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