With Omicron Comes Mask Mandates

As employers across the country scramble to meet the deadlines set by OSHA within the workplace comes the proliferation of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.  In order to combat the rapid spread of COVID during the winter months, the two largest cities in the state, Minneapolis and St. Paul, have instituted masking mandates indoors.

Both mandates began at 5 p.m. on Thursday, January 6, 2022, and require face coverings while indoors.  The St. Paul order is limited only to those businesses licensed by the City.  The mask mandates were rescinded in June, but based on the rapid spread virus across the country.

For those businesses operating within city limits, it likely means that both customers and employees must be masked while indoors.  The St. Paul order directs businesses to require all individuals to wear masks while in doors and social distancing is not possible.  Any business licensed by the City of St. Paul “may face adverse licensing action and penalties” from the city.

As for Minneapolis, its regulation states that all “employers of businesses that are spaces of public accommodation…shall require their employees, regardless of vaccination status” to wear masks whenever in contact with the public.  In addition, anyone over the age of two is required to wear a mask when in indoor spaces of public accommodation regardless of vaccination status.

Spaces of public accommodation includes the following:

  • Business
  • Educational, refreshment, entertainment, or recreation facility;
  • Institution of any kind, whether licensed or not, whose goods or services are made available to the public.

Violations of the Minneapolis ordinance include warning letters, citations, and possible misdemeanor prosecution.

For employers with over 100 employees, this basically moves the deadline for masking enforcement up four days from January 10 to January 6.  However, for smaller businesses working within City boundaries, it will be necessary to enforce the mask mandates within your businesses, or face punishment.

At this point in time, it’s clear that these mandates are not going away for good anytime soon.  If you, or your organization, need assistance complying with the latest municipal masking mandates or the OSHA vaccine/testing mandates set for enforcement next week, contact Wiley Reber Law, for advice that works.