New York Updates Model HERO Act Plan Regarding Face Coverage Requirements | Small
On September 23, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor updated its face covering requirements contained in its model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan. The update requires immediate review and possible revision of plans adopted under New York’s Basic Health and Rights Act (“HERO”).
The main change in the revised model plan is the relaxation of face covering requirements for employees at workplaces where everyone on the premises is vaccinated. In this case, the face covers are apparently no longer necessary, but only recommended. The previous model required masks to be worn throughout the workday “to the extent possible” and did not distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.
The updated model plan now provides:
1. [APPLICABLE FOR MOST WORKPLACES] Employees will wear appropriate face coverings as directed by the state Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as applicable.
2. [APPLICABLE FOR WORKPLACES where all individuals on premises, including but not limited to employees, are fully vaccinated – defined as having completed a federally authorized or approved vaccination series for an airborne infectious disease designated as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health (as is currently the case for COVID-19, pursuant to the Commissioner of Health’s designation)] Appropriate face coverings are recommended, but not required, in accordance with applicable guidelines from the State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effective September 16, 2021.
The State also deleted from the paragraph on “physical distancing” the following sentence: “use a face covering when the physical distance cannot be maintained. Note that the state has not updated its NY Hero Act airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standard to reflect changes to its model plan.
The state released information and FAQs on the NY HERO Act on September 9, 2021. As of this publication, the state had not updated its FAQs to reflect the implications of the change in requirements. face covering material. Consider, for example, an employer who has a mandatory vaccination policy but has provided housing to a person for religious or medical reasons. If so, is it a mixed workplace requiring face covers for all vaccinated and unvaccinated? Many other questions have been raised by these changes.
As a reminder, employers are required to train their employees on several subjects set out in the Model NY HERO Act Plan. Employers are encouraged to consult with a lawyer to resolve issues that may arise, review and update existing prevention plans, develop training strategies, and stay abreast of the evolving legal landscape regarding COVID-19.