Vax Up Mask Down—What the New COVID-19 Guidance Means for Employers

With vaccination rates on the rise and COVID-19 restrictions relaxing, many employers are reassessing existing policies in preparation for the return of employees to the workplace. The following is a summary of the revised guidance issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), along with the current state of affairs in the surrounding jurisdictions—

CDC Guidance

  • People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or 2 weeks after their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine;
  • Fully vaccinated people may—
    • Resume activities engaged in prior to the pandemic
    • Resume activities unmasked and without distancing except where required by federal, state or local law or by local businesses or workplace guidance
    • Travel inside the U.S. without testing beforehand or quarantining afterwards
    • Travel outside the U.S. without—
      • testing beforehand (unless required by the destination)
      • quarantining afterwards

Note: people who travel internationally will still be required to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the U.S. and should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel

  • Skip getting tested or self-quarantining following an exposure, absent symptoms
    • Unless you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter
  • Fully vaccinated people should still—
    • Follow guidance issued by their workplaces and local businesses
    • Protect themselves and others while traveling—wear a mask on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation
    • Monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19, especially after being around someone who is sick and get tested and stay home if they experience symptoms

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA is still reviewing the recently issued CDC guidance and will be adjusting its recommendations in the near future.

Maryland

  • Effective May 15, 2021, fully vaccinated Marylanders are no longer required to wear masks indoors or outdoors
  • Non-vaccinated individuals over the age of 2 are still advised to wear face coverings in all indoor settings and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Private businesses and workplaces are free to put in place their own policies/guidelines
  • Local jurisdictions may use emergency powers to set additional restrictions

Montgomery County, MD 

Effective May 28, 2021 at 6am, the Board of Health Regulation expires—no capacity limits will be in place, and all activities and businesses must follow State of Maryland or Maryland Department of Health guidelines

Virginia

  • Universal indoor mask mandate has been lifted
  • Effective May 28, 2021 Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions

D.C.

COVID-19 related restrictions on businesses were lifted effective May 21, 2021

Employers should continue to monitor updates to federal, state and local rules as well as guidance issued by the CDC and OSHA. Smooth reopening will require clear and effective communication and well-considered policies that support both efficient delivery of goods and services as well as the continued health and safety of employees, customers and clients.

Meredith S. Campbell
Chair Employment and Labor Group
Co-Chair Corporate Investigations, Governance & Risk Management

Email mcampbell@shulmanrogers.com T(301)255-0550

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