On July 27, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new interim public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people to provide guidance regarding mask-wearing for vaccinated individuals in light of the highly-transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19. The updated guidance does not address unvaccinated individuals because the CDC has continued to recommend mask-wearing in most settings for unvaccinated individuals. The CDC now recommends as follows:
- Vaccinated individuals are advised to wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission of COVID-19. Arkansas, Missouri, and surrounding states are all currently considered areas of substantial or high transmission.
- Vaccinated individuals who are immunocompromised, have an increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or who reside with someone who is immunocompromised, at increased risk for disease, or unvaccinated, are advised to consider wearing masks regardless of the level of COVID-19 transmission in their geographic area.
- Vaccinated individuals who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases should be tested three to five days after exposure and wear a mask in public indoor setting for 14 days or until they receive a negative test.
If you are an employer and considering implementing or re-implementing a mask requirement, we recommend your communication include language similar to the following:
"Given the recent surge in COVID cases and impact of the Delta variant, the CDC has issued new guidelines on masking that we will follow in order to protect the health of our employees, their families and our customers. Beginning immediately, personnel must wear a mask any time they leave their office/work space and enter a common area. This applies whether or not you have been vaccinated. This will also apply to all customers and other visitors."
Our attorneys continue to monitor the evolving situation on the Delta variant and related state and federal guidance.
Allison Pearson Rhodes is an associate in the Labor and Employment Practice Group. Allison advises employers in all aspects of labor and employment laws including compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. She also regularly defends employers in claims of discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, and wage-and-hour violations before federal and state courts and administrative agencies.
Disclaimer: The information included here is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for legal advice nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel. For more information or if you have further questions, please contact one of our Attorneys.