Outagamie County, Dane County, and the city of Milwaukee have joined the growing list of communities across the country that are lifting their mask and other COVID-related public health orders. Outagamie County lifted its face mask requirements on May 13, 2021. Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) announced on May 18, 2021 that its public health orders and mask requirements will expire on June 2. On the same day, Mayor Tom Barrett announced that the City of Milwaukee will lift its public health orders and mask requirements on June 1.
These announcements follow the guidance released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that fully vaccinated individuals can safely stop wearing masks outdoors and in most public indoor settings. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has indicated that it will release updated workplace safety requirements for employers based on CDC’s guidance. We will keep you informed with updates from OSHA.
Without a mask mandate, employers have several options. Employers may lift all mask requirements; require masks only for individuals who are not fully vaccinated; or require masks for all employees, customers, clients, and/or others on-site. As employers grapple with the best decision for their organization, they should work with HR professionals and employment attorneys to address issues such as:
- What is your organizational culture?
- How do your employees feel about returning to the workplace with or without masks?
- Are you requiring vaccines?
- If so, have you set up a legally compliant infrastructure to address, among many other things, reasonable accommodations for disabilities and sincerely held religious beliefs, confidentiality, and consistency among your workforce?
- If you have employees in multiple states, have you checked the laws, including local or state health orders, to ensure vaccinations can be required?
- If you will allow vaccinated employees to work without masks, are you asking for proof of vaccination or relying on an attestation from employees?
- Have you set up a legally compliant process for checking vaccination status?
- If you will not require masks at all, have you adopted cleaning and hygiene protocols to ensure you can satisfy your duty to provide a safe workplace for your employees?
Lake Effect is here to collaborate with you on questions about workplace safety, employees returning to work, and employee vaccinations.