As with everything in this Pandemic, in addition to the Federal (CDC), and State guidance, employers must be cognizant of the local guidance and regulations. This article focuses on Philadelphia.
On May 11, 2021, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) announced that the Safer at Home Restrictions will be gradually relaxed. However, it is crucial for employers operating in Philadelphia to understand the nuances of the City restrictions.
MAY 21, 2021
OFFICES AND RETAIL STORES IN PHILLY CAN OPERATE WITH NO DENSITY LIMITS
As explained in my previous blog, the Commonwealth declared that as of May 31, 2021, employers may operate business without any COVID-19 restrictions except for the mask mandate. In Philadelphia, the PDPH declared that as of MAY 21, 2021 offices, retail stores, bowling alleys, museums, and libraries, are permitted to operate with NO DENSITY LIMITS. With that being said, the City Mask Order in still in effect.
FRIDAY JUNE 11, 2021
ALL SAFER AT HOME RESTRICTIONS ARE LIFTED EXCEPT FOR THE MASK ORDER
As of June 11, 2021, the remaining Safer at Home Restrictions will be lifted, but “mask requirements are still in effect.” So, as of June 11, 2021, businesses can go back to normal, except when it comes to masks.
So what are the mask requirements in Philadelphia?
The City is explicit when it comes to the masks. The City declares that, “[f]or all instances where the PA State Guidance differs from the [Philadelphia] Health Department, follow the guidance that is most restrictive.”
As discussed in my previous blog, the Commonwealth allows for Fully-Vaccinated individuals not to wear masks. However, the City does not make such allowances. Since the City is stricter than the State, Philadelphia Employers must still abide by the mask requirements that are included in the Philadelphia Safer at Home Guidance.
It follows that even after May 31, office settings must continue to abide by the following mask requirements:
- Require employees and visitors to mask while on site, regardless of vaccination status, except:
- If an employee is working alone in a separate office.
- As necessary for the employee to eat or drink during break times.
- Prohibit employees from eating together in a shared space, lunchroom, conference room, or breakroom by removing tables that seat more than one person
- If the employee has a visitor to his or her office or cubicle, both visitor and employee must wear masks for the duration of the visit.
- While working in an open space, including cubicles, all employees must be masked at all times.
Moreover, even after May 31, Retail Settings must continue to abide by the following mask requirements:
- Provide masks for employees.
- Require employees and customers to mask while on site, regardless of vaccination status, except only as necessary for the employee to eat or drink during break times. The employee should be seated at least 6 feet from others when taking off mask, even while in breakrooms with other staff.
- Mealtimes are one of the most common sources of staff-to-staff transmission of COVID-19. Remind staff that they should limit the amount of time that they are not wearing a face mask and that they should continue to wear their face masks while on break when not actively eating.
- Staff should not eat in the same area where customers are present.
NOTE: This means that all stores must continue to require customers and employees to wear a mask REGARDLESS of vaccination status.
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.
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