New CDC, OSHA Guidance On Masks And Letter Seeking Protection From Enforcement For Employees

Last week, EMA joined NACS and seven other associations in a letter to CDC and OSHA regarding the revised mask use guidance, asking to protect employees from being required to be enforcers of state and local policies mandating wearing masks in public areas.

The letter urged CDC and OSHA to lead on this worker safety issue by publicly stating again that in jurisdictions that decide to require masks, the burden of enforcement should not be placed on businesses and their employees.

CDC did this last year at EMA’s request but did not make any noticeable public statements.

This letter calls on making certain that retail employees are not responsible for mandating the use of masks.

Because of the rapidly growing rates of transmission of the delta variant of COVID, the CDC recently recommended that vaccinated people start wearing masks indoors and in public places due to the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading among vaccinated people.

The letter points out that “During the past year and a half, some local ordinances put the onus of mask enforcement on retail businesses. These requirements put employees in perilous situations as mask-wearing became a heated and politicized issue. Many of these confrontations became physical, and tragically, in some cases deadly. In June, a grocery cashier in Georgia was fatally shot after a confrontation with a customer involving a mask. In May 2020, a security guard at a dollar store in Michigan was killed after denying entry to a woman not wearing a mask. According to Forbes, “A review of news articles and law enforcement reports shows at least seven others have been killed following disputes over masks, predominantly inside different stores.”

Preserving the safety and well-being of retail employees is critical.

Store employees are not prepared to enforce health restrictions and requiring them to do so presents the potential for confrontations fueled by anger that can turn violent quickly. That is not worth the risk.

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