The New York State Commissioner of Health once again extended the designation of COVID-19 as highly contagious, which requires employers’ HERO Act safety plans to remain activated through at least February 15, 2022. The Commissioner also extended the State’s mask mandate through February 1, 2022.
With the State’s recent surge of COVID-19 cases, overwhelmingly due to the Omicron variant, the Commissioner’s actions were not unexpected. A decision is expected by February 15, 2022, on whether, based on the level of COVID-19 transmission rates at the time, to extend the designation beyond that date.
Employers in NYS must continue enforcing their company’s Disease Exposure Prevention Plan under the HERO Act. This includes, among other requirements, conducting daily health screenings and mandatory masking in workplaces unless all individuals are fully vaccinated.
Separately but related, based on the NYS Health Commissioner’s revised Determination on Indoor Masking, the State’s mask mandate is extended through at least February 1, 2022. Under this mandate, masks are required for employees, customers, and visitors in all indoor public places – including offices – unless the business or venue requires proof of vaccination to enter.
Although the HERO Act designation and the mask mandate now have different expiration dates, they effectively share the same employee masking requirements. Therefore, regardless of the mask mandate’s current February 1, 2022, expiration date, employers should expect to continue employee masking requirements under the HERO Act through at least February 15, 2022.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute a legal opinion, and is not legal advice. The facts of each situation should be considered and analyzed individually. Therefore, you should always consult with competent employment counsel regarding any issues discussed here.
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