Late Friday, April 17, 2020, the Department of Economic and Community Development issued updated Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers and updated Essential Safe Store Rules, requiring masks or cloth face-coverings be worn by customers and employees effective immediately.

The new rules expand the requirement of masks in the workplace.  Previously, the rules stated that masks should be worn “whenever close personal contact is unavoidable.”  The new rules make masks mandatory in all circumstances.  However, these rules continue to apply to the workplace only, and not to telework situations.

The updated rules were issued following new Executive Order 7BB, which also makes it mandatory that all persons wear a mask or cloth face-covering in any public place where he or she is unable to maintain a safe social distance of at least six feet.  The EO mask requirement for the public is effective at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020.

The new workplace rules and new retail store rules run until at least May 20, 2020.

Specifically, in all workplaces and stores:

  • Each employee shall be required to wear a mask or other cloth material that covers his or her mouth and nose at all times while in the workplace.
  • Employers shall issue such masks or cloth face coverings to their employees.
  • In the event an employer is unable to provide masks or cloth face coverings to employees because of shortages or supply chain difficulties, employers must provide the materials and CDC tutorial about how to create a cloth face covering, or compensate employees for the reasonable and necessary costs employees expend on such materials to make their own masks or cloth face covering.
  • An exception can be made if wearing a mask would be contrary to the employee’s health or safety because of a medical condition. No medical documentation is necessary by the employee.

The safe workplace rules also mandate that employers “require all customers to wear cloth face coverings while on premises.”  The safe retail rules require something similar, though do provide for an exception if a customer has a medical condition that requires the customer not to wear a mask.

For essential stores and restaurants that are continuing to operate, you can view the entire set of rules here.

Essential employers that are still maintaining operations should immediately move to supply employees with masks or provide supplies to the employees to make them at home.  Further, employers, including retail stores, should implement rules that require that customers wear masks or cloth face coverings when entering the premises.

For more information on rules for employers to operate, visit our Coronavirus Resource Center.