Important Small Business Update: Reopening of Virginia’s Economy

Date: June 02, 2021

Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions put in place at the beginning of the pandemic were lifted on May 28, 2021.

NFIB wants to make sure that you have all the details.

Here’s a summary of the new regulations. You can find the text of Executive Order 79 here.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Permanent Regulations passed by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board (VOSH) in January are still in effect for the workplace.

NFIB and the Virginia Business Coalition we co-lead has called upon Governor Ralph Northam to convene the Virginia Safety & Health Codes Board to repeal the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Permanent Regulations as soon as possible.

NFIB has conferred with the Virginia Department of Labor & Industry (VDOLI) and determined the following:

  1. Masks & Executive Orders (EO): The Governor’s team believes that EO79 supersedes the Permanent Standard (other legal counsel says otherwise). Regardless, VDOLI will be enforcing EO79 as it pertains to masks, not the permanent regulation and is looking for “good faith” compliance.

Businesses will only have to comply with the Permanent Standard and Executive Order 79. Thus, beginning at midnight, if you are fully vaccinated, you do not have to wear a mask. If you are not fully vaccinated, you must wear a mask.

  1. Social distancing in the workplace is still required for those that are unvaccinated. Businesses do not have to verify that customers/suppliers on their premise are vaccinated in order to eliminate their mask wearing obligations and social distancing.

Requiring employees to disclose vaccination status may have substantial regulatory and civil liberty implications (see VDOLI FAQ #54).

Beware that requiring an employee to disclose their vaccination status may constitute the creation of a health record and obligate the company to HIPAA, EEOC, ADA, and other regulatory record-keeping obligations.

Instead, the best-practice recommendation is to have employees read the CDC guidance and sign a document saying they have read it and understand it. Thus, if they don’t wear a mask, it’s their choice and you have made a good faith effort to protect your employees. Here is a rudimentary signature sheet you can implement:

CDC Mask Guidance Signature Sheet

In regard to asking customers/visitors for vaccination proof, placing signage around your business is the best way to convey a message regarding mask-wearing and to make a similar good faith effort to protect your employees and customers/visitors. Here is a sign you can use:

CDC Mask Guidance Infographic

 

 

Further Information

According to VOSH, CDC guidance does not provide “equivalent or greater protection” to the VA COVID-19 permanent regulation. VDH and VDOLI will issue case by case decisions on this issue through their  FAQ system.

  • Break Rooms and CafeteriasBreak rooms and cafeterias must stay socially separated for those employees who are unvaccinated. Vaccinated employees do not have to comply with social distancing in break rooms and on-premise cafeterias.
  • FAQs about the final permanent COVID-19 standard have been posted to the DOLI outreach page. VDOLI will be issuing more FAQ updates this week.

New regulations related to Code §40 are listed under FAQs 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54. These questions address updated CDC guidance on fully vaccinated employees.

 

 

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