Essential Businesses In Pennsylvania, New York, And New Jersey Must Now Require Their Employees To Wear Face Masks Or Face Coverings

Essential businesses throughout Pennsylvania authorized to maintain in-person operations must now require their employees to wear face masks while on the work site. Similarly, essential businesses in New York and New Jersey must require their employees to wear face coverings. The nuances of these mandates are set forth, below:

• Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine issued an Order [https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200415-SOH-worker-safety-order.pdf], effective April 19th at 8:00 p.m., requiring employees of businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations to wear masks “while on the work site.” Businesses must provide masks for their employees to wear “during their time at the business.” Additionally, businesses must now require their customers to wear masks “while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks.” The Order enumerates certain exceptions to this mandate, and it notes that “individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition . . . may enter the premises.” Businesses may be subject to citations, fines, or license suspensions for failure to comply with the Order.

• New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s April 12th Executive Order [https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/EO_202.16_final.pdf] requires employees of essential businesses to “wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public.” Businesses must, at their expense, provide face coverings for their employees. New York’s Order went into effect April 15th at 8:00 p.m. These provisions may be enforced by local governments or local law enforcement. New Yorkers are now also required to wear face coverings in public when social distancing is not possible.

• New Jersey: Governor Philip Murphy’s April 8th Executive Order [https://www.nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-122.pdf] provides that essential retail businesses permitted to maintain in-person operations must require employees and customers “to wear cloth face coverings while on the premises, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health or where the individual is under two years of age.” Employees must also “wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods.” Businesses must, at their expense, provide face coverings and gloves for their employees. Subject to certain exceptions, should a customer refuse to wear a cloth face covering for non-medical reasons, “then the business must decline entry to the individual.” New Jersey’s Order went into effect April 10th at 8:00 p.m. Businesses may be subject to penalties for failure to comply with the Order.

Ansa Assuncao continues to monitor the coronavirus pandemic. Our legal team can advise employers on specific employment and legal issues arising from the coronavirus, including best practices and policies for employers to follow. Contact our legal team for assistance.

Malena Kinsman is an Associate in our Pennsylvania office.