Employees in contact with members of the public must wear face coverings, effective today at 8 p.m.; interim guidance released


Effective at 8 p.m. today and pursuant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.16, all essential businesses, including credit unions, must provide employees in the workplace with face coverings that employees must wear when they are in direct contact with customers or members of the public. The provision may be enforced by local governments or local law enforcement.

Interim guidance from the Department of Health released on Tuesday stated that essential businesses and state and local government agencies and authorities “must procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain face coverings and provide such coverings to employees who directly interact with the public during the course of their work at no-cost to the employee.”

Direct interaction with the public “shall be determined by the employer, but, at a minimum, shall include any employee who is routinely within close contact (i.e. six feet or less) with members of the public, including but not limited to customers or clients,” according to the interim guidance.

Despite the guidance, the Association’s listserves were abuzz Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning with credit union leaders seeking to clarify specifically how the Executive Order requiring employees who interact with the public impacts their employees. For example, whether employees working a credit union’s drive-thru need to wear face coverings drew a mixed response from credit union leaders.

Yet in typical “people-helping-people” credit union fashion, multiple responders offered tips on where to find face coverings and one even shared a link to a YouTube video of U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams demonstrating how to make a face covering.

As for the types of face coverings that are acceptable to use, the guidance states that face coverings “include, but are not limited to, cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields.”

Employers unable to “procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain face coverings for their employees” can consult with their local emergency management office to determine if extra supplies exist within the municipality, the guidance states.

Employees who are unable to wear face coverings and are susceptible to COVID-19 based on “Matilda’s Law” criteria (i.e. individuals who are 70 years of age or older, have compromised immune systems or underlying illnesses) are advised to consult with their employer to consider reasonable accommodations, the guidance states.

Not being able to source face coverings does not relieve an employer’s obligation to provide face coverings to their employees, according to the guidance.

The interim guidance is available on the New York State Department of Health website.

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