On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can:
- Resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic; and
- Do so without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
According to the CDC, people are generally considered fully vaccinated:
- Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines; or
- Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
However, at this time the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not changed its guidance about employers’ duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace during the pandemic. Per OSHA, employers should implement COVID-19 Prevention Programs in the workplace and include the following key elements:
- Conducting a hazard assessment;
- Identifying a combination of measures that limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace (such as face coverings, face masks, social distancing, etc.);
- Adopting measures to ensure that workers who are infected or potentially infected are separated and sent home from the workplace; and
- Implementing protections from retaliation for workers who raise COVID-19 related concerns.
According to OSHA, “It is important to wear a face covering and remain physically distant from co-workers and customers even for those who have been vaccinated because it is not known at this time how vaccination affects transmissibility.” Also, some states have enacted strict laws requiring face masks, but they may be lifted in the near future. For instance, according to a California Department of Public Health press release from May 3, 2021, the state continues to require the use of face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor settings outside of one’s home.