On June 15, 2021, New York lifted almost all Covid-19 related restrictions throughout the state. However, this has created some uncertainty and confusion as what business owners may require of their employees and customers as New York State returns to normalcy. Below is brief a summary of what businesses may require during the reopening process.
Can Businesses Require Employee Vaccinations?
Pursuant to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) guidance, employers may require their employees to be vaccinated in an effort to provide a safe work environment. However, according to the guidance, an employee may be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination policy. If an exemption applies, the employer may be required to provide the employee a reasonable accommodation to its vaccination policy, so long as it does not create an undue hardship, including, but not limited to, a mask requirement for the unvaccinated employee, social distancing, periodic COVID-19 testing, remote work, or reassignment.
Are Masks & Social Distancing Still Required?
If your business is a commercial setting, then all state-required Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Commercial settings include, but are not limited to, retail stores, restaurants, offices, gyms, hair salons, and personal care services. Accordingly, mask requirements, social distancing, capacity restrictions, health screening of employees and patrons, and cleaning and disinfection are now completely optional for these businesses. Therefore, a commercial setting business can decide if they want to keep restrictions, lift some or all previous restrictions, or implement other health precautions to protect employees and patrons at their discretion. Nonetheless, if a business lifts its mask requirement, it is still recommended that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear masks and social distance. A business, if they wish, may determine an individual’s vaccination status based on (i) the honor system or (ii) require proof of vaccination.
If your business exceeds 5,000 attendees at an indoor venue, then different guidelines apply. Consistent with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommendations, these indoor establishments can eliminate social distancing and mask requirements for fully vaccinated individuals, but proof of vaccination is required. Additionally, unvaccinated individuals over the age of four must present a negative COVID-19 test prior to the event and wear masks within the venue. However, social distancing is not required among tested individuals, allowing the venue to reach 100 percent capacity.
Social distancing and mask requirements are still required in certain situations, such as, schools, public transportation, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Contact The Wagoner Firm PLLC if you have questions regarding the COVID-19 guidance and requirements during your business’ reopening process. We are happy to assist your business in these unprecedented times.