On May 4, 2021, Governor Wolf announced that, “all COVID-19 restrictions related to gatherings, restaurants, and other businesses will be lifted.” Governor Wolf, went on to announce that the Masking Order remains in effect until 70% of the adults in Pennsylvania are Fully Vaccinated.
(NOTE: For information about what it means to be Fully-Vaccinated and for information on the details of the PA Masking Order, please refer to my previous blogs that are linked within this article.)
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESSES IN AN OFFICE SETTING?
This article focuses on businesses in an office-setting. For businesses operating in the Commonwealth, on May 31, there will no longer be any occupancy or visitor restrictions in the office. Until then, employers must abide by the current safety orders. The latest Order from the state still instructs that telework is mandatory unless impossible. Even more, businesses are to keep all in-person meetings to a maximum of 10 people. Once May 31, 2021, arrives, there are no longer any restrictions related to visitors or occupancy.
However, businesses in Philadelphia have to hold off for a little while longer. Check out my blog on businesses operating in the City of Brotherly (and sisterly) Love.
WHAT ABOUT MASKS….
Governor Wolf made it clear that the mask restrictions are still in place. It is worth noting that the Mask Order was originally issued on November 18, 2020. This same order was recently reissued by the Secretary of Health. Not surprisingly, there is no reference in the Order to vaccinations. As with everything during this pandemic, employers must look to all resources (PA Orders, PA FAQ’s, CDC Guidance) in order to get the accurate assessment of how to conduct business.
While the Mask Order does not reference vaccination status, the Mask FAQ discusses the issue.
QUESTION: Do I still need to wear a mask if I am fully vaccinated?
ANSWER: People who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear a face covering when indicated in the [CDC] guidance for fully vaccinated people. This would include most outdoor settings except in certain crowded settings and venues.
This means that employers must look to the CDC Guidance for fully vaccinated people. On May 13, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance to read the following:
[F]ully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
In order for employers to ensure adherence to the CDC standard, employers should obtain proof of vaccination in order to allow an employee to work in the business setting without a mask. As discussed in my previous blog, businesses are absolutely entitled to request employees submit proof of vaccination.
ABOUT SUSIE CIRILLI
Susie M. Cirilli is a Labor & Employment attorney that assists clients with issues involving the ADA, FMLA, and Title VII claims. Susie litigates on matters related to hostile work environment, discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, race and disability. Susie has experience representing employers in fact-finding conferences and mediations before the PHRC and the EEOC. Susie’s practice also consists of counseling and advising clients on employment matters. She often advises employers on day to day employment matters and assists her clients on employee issues such as hiring and terminations, which includes drafting and negotiating separation agreements. Susie has experience drafting and revising employment agreements, employee handbooks, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. Susie is admitted in the Middle District and Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is also admitted in the Federal Court for the District of New Jersey.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 15 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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