The CDC now wants everyone to wear masks in certain public indoor places. But where? Why? And for how long?



Take a look at that map. If you are in an orange or red county — about 63% of the map —  those are considered areas of substantial or high transmission of the Delta variant of COVID-19. So, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that you wear a mask indoors in public to “maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others.”

The CDC also notes that “you should continue to wear a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance.” (This USA Today article from July 27, 2021, has a list of state mandates.) But, the new CDC masking recommendations themselves do not carry the force of law.

Let’s assume that your business does not operate in a state or locality that mandates facemasks. How should your business respond, if at all, to the new CDC guidance?

As an employment lawyer thinking about how I would defend a client accused of creating unsafe COVID-19 working conditions, I’d want to be able to argue that my client acted reasonably by following CDC guidance to the letter. And notwithstanding their good-faith efforts to do so, something bad happened that was outside of their control.

Catch my drift?

If not, allow me to be crystal clear. If you operate a business in a red or orange area, you should require that everyone (employees, customers, vendors, etc.) wear a facemask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Keep in mind that this is a moving target. Transmission levels vary from week to week. So, check the COVID-19 tracker for the latest data.

And do what you can to get your workforce vaccinated.


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