By: Leah K. Sell, Esq.
Effective April 4, 2021, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) issued Amended Orders revising the requirement that all employees telework unless impossible to a “strong encouragement” that all employees telework.
Employees who are returned to the workplace will be required to abide by current workplace mitigation protocols including daily temperature checks, social distancing, and wearing a mask unless working alone. These protocols are required regardless of an employee’s vaccination status. Employers must also continue to encourage employees to stay home when sick, plan and implement exposure protocols, and utilize increased cleaning regimens.
The CDC and other agency guidance still recommends the utilization of virtual meetings and the modified use of common areas, such as break rooms. In addition to social distancing requirements, employers must also ensure they are able to comply with occupancy requirements. Given these requirements and guidance, including the PA DOH’s strong encouragement that employees continue to telework when able, employers whose employees are effectively working remotely may want to consider extending telework.
The Amended Orders also increased capacity for certain businesses and events. Personal care services, such as salons, and entertainment facilities, such as museums, were each increased to 75% capacity. Appointments are “highly encouraged” but not required by the Amended Orders for personal care services. Entertainment facilities must follow the Event and Gathering restrictions for individual events.
Gym and fitness facilities are still permitted to operate at 75% capacity but are encouraged to utilize outdoor activities when possible. Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs are limited to 50% capacity. However, those restaurants that self-certify can increase capacity to 75% capacity. All indoor Events and Gatherings, regardless of venue, are restricted to 25% and all outdoor Events and Gatherings are restricted to 50% capacity.
All businesses and events must continue to follow all mitigation protocols including, but not limited to, masks (regardless of vaccination status), social distancing, and cleaning regimens.
Businesses and employers who choose to recall employees to the workplace or increase capacity should exercise caution and ensure that they continue to comply with OSHA’s duty of care to provide a workplace free from harm. Complying with Orders, including occupancy requirements, and adhering to agency guidance, such as telework recommendations, are imperative to meeting this duty of care. All protections and protocols should be clearly communicated and frequently updated.
If you have any questions regarding this or any other related order, please contact Leah K. Sell.
Leah Sell is an Associate with Leech Tishman, and a member of the firm’s Employment & Labor Practice Group. She is based in the firm’s Pittsburgh office and can be reached at 412.261.1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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