Following the Centers for Disease Control’s updated mask and COVID-19 guidance dated July 27, 2021, OSHA finally updated its own mask and COVID-19 guidance on August 13, 2021. The press release relating to that updated guidance can be viewed here.
Under the new guidance, OSHA recommends that employers require their employees—even those who are fully vaccinated—to wear masks when indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission of COVID-19. Areas of substantial or high transmission are determined by county and updated by the CDC daily. The CDC’s updated map showing transmission rates by county can be viewed here. As of today, the vast majority of the counties around the country are considered areas of substantial or high transmission, thereby implicating the updated guidance.
The new guidance also recommends that fully vaccinated individuals with known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask while indoors for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
If your business operates indoors in an area of substantial or high transmission, we recommend that you require all employees and visitors to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. However, given the language of its press release and updated guidance, OSHA appears hesitant to enforce this updated guidance—likely acknowledging that many employers will struggle with the implementation of ever-changing mask rules based on local transmission rates.