More States and Municipalities Impose Mandatory Face Covering and Other Workplace Protections
After an initial wave that saw a focus on closing or limiting “non-essential” or “non-life sustaining” businesses and limiting individual travel, states and municipalities have shifted their attention to protections for those who are continuing to work and travel as they perform essential personal and professional functions. The primary, but not only, area of such focus is on mandating the use of cloth or fabric masks. This change has come as more has become known about how the highly infectious coronavirus spreads, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommending that cloth face coverings be worn “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” such as grocery stores and pharmacies, “especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
These new orders vary in their scope and strictness. The Pennsylvania Department of Health, for example, has issued an order requiring masks to be worn by employees of businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations and further requiring employers to provide such masks. The Pennsylvania order also requires most shoppers to wear masks before entering most stores.
Cities and municipalities have also issued mask orders, and those orders are often the most stringent. For example, Miami, Florida has mandated face coverings for anyone entering restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies or other retail stores. Similarly, Laredo, Texas has issued an order requiring anyone over the age of five to wear “some form of covering over their nose and mouth” while in taxis, public transportation or inside a public building. Penalties for violating the mask orders vary as well, with some states and municipalities imposing fines of up to $1,000.