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To mask or not to mask?

Welcome to the newest debate your business is going to need to handle.

By now you have probably seen many states have opted to follow the newest CDC guidelines and relax on masks. In case you have not seen the news yet here is a brief synopsis of the new recommendations: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in many indoor and outdoor settings. But employees and customers will still need to follow the COVID-19 safety rules set by individual businesses—including mask mandates. "You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance," the CDC said.

So, what does this mean for you and your employees? If your state has opted to follow the CDC’s newest ruling than you might be able to ease up on mask mandates in your business, but only for those who have been fully vaccinated.* If your office is small enough you may be able to ask staff if they have been vaccinated and make the decision on whether you want to also ease up on your mask policies.

Employers are permitted to ask employees if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19; however, caution should be taken to avoid soliciting information related to an employee’s medical condition. A simple yes or no response from employees should be sufficient and employers should instruct employees not to provide additional information about the reason they may not have received the vaccine.**

Many larger retailers are opting to still hold steady on mask mandates in their companies to protect employees and customers alike. The challenge of who is vaccinated and who is not is still too great of a risk for them that they have taken an all or none approach. And if your business relies on interfacing with the public than you may wish to still enforce masks until your area’s vaccination numbers are higher.

This new recommendation comes on the heels of a very challenging year where employers have already been forced to create their own playbooks. If you are unsure how to address continuing mask mandates in your business contact us and we would be happy to help guide you in this confusing time.

* Guidelines cover people who have received a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines. For the new guidelines to apply, travelers must be "fully vaccinated," which means that two weeks have passed since they received a single-shot vaccine or the second dose of a two-shot vaccine.- U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention

**Recommendation on how to ask about Vaccinations taken from SHRM website.

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