New York’s COVID-19 state of emergency extended, mask recommendations updated

Gov. Kathy Hochul has extended the state’s declaration of the COVID-19 state of emergency through March 16, 2022. The prior declaration was set to expire Tuesday, February 15.

The state of emergency designation in New York state of COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health” that has been extended multiple times since it was originally enacted requires employers to continue to have their New York HERO Act workplace safety plans in place.

In addition, the state has updated its recommendations regarding face coverings in the workplace. Updates to the Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plans reflect that that the state is not requiring employers to mandate employees to wear masks, unless the setting is specifically referenced in the model plan (for example, hospitals, nursing homes, pre-K to grade 12 schools, etc.). However, the guidance still emphasizes that masking in all indoor settings is still “strongly recommended.”

With respect to masks in the workplace, the new model plan replaces the prior language with the following:

Effective February 10, 2022: Employees will wear appropriate face coverings in accordance with guidance from State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as applicable. Consistent with the guidance from the State Department of Health, if indoor areas do not have a mask or vaccine requirement as a condition of entry, appropriate face coverings are recommended, but not required. It is also recommended that face coverings be worn by unvaccinated individuals, including those with medical exemptions, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Further, the State’s masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, health care, child care, group homes, and other sensitive settings in accordance with CDC guidelines. New York State and the State Department of Health continue to strongly recommend face coverings in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required.

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