Since “Phase Two” of the Coronavirus response started and businesses began to open in Nevada, new COVID-19 cases have significantly increased. On June 24, 2020 Governor Sisolak ordered all Nevadans to wear masks that cover mouths and notes while in public, including the workplace and in any place of business. According to guidance issued on June 24, 2020, the “Face Mask Orders” require wearing a mask at work when interacting with customers, other employees, in any common area, or in any room or enclosed area where other people are present. The guidance also states that the mask mandate does not apply to (1) employees who can’t wear a face covering for medical reasons or because of a disability, and (2) employees who could be put at risk for wearing a mask (primarily police officers).
On June 26, 2020, the Nevada Department of Business, the Industry Division of Industrial Relations, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued further guidance. The document highlights that employers must:
- Provide face coverings for employees assigned to serving the public and shall require these employees to wear the face coverings.
- Prohibit gatherings of 10 or more people.
- Promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including providing workers, customers, and worksite visitors with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol‐based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Maintain regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and equipment with Environmental Protection Agency‐approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus.
- Provide sanitation and cleaning supplies for addressing common surfaces in multiple user mobile equipment and multiple user tooling. Recommended based on the specifics of a business’s services and procedures.
- Conduct daily surveys of changes to staff/labor health conditions. NV OSHA is emphasizing the need for business leadership to be working with and aware of the health and well‐being of its staff.
- Ensure that any identified first responders in the labor force are provided and use the needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and equipment for protection from communicable or infections disease.
- Provide access to potable and sanitary water.
The document also emphasizes that the Governor’s orders constitute a mandate, stating specifically:
“All essential and non-essential businesses opening or continuing operations in Phase 2 must adopt measures promulgated by the Nevada State Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NV OSHA) to minimize the risk of spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and sanitation measure, and abide by all other guidance promulgated pursuant to the Phase 2 directive.”
“NV OSHA shall enforce all violations of its guidelines, protocols, and regulations promulgated pursuant to this Directive.”
If employers do not enforce face masks in the workplace, you could be subject to OSHA fines among other consequences.
Consequences for Not Wearing Masks
While it is unclear how Nevada will enforce “Mask Orders,” states may charge people with criminal misdemeanor offenses under “disorderly conduct” laws for not wearing masks. Massachusetts has begun to fine people based on these existing state laws. If a customer enters your building and sees that your employees are not wearing masks a police officer may subsequently issue you or your employees a fine.
CDC and WHO Recommendations
Governor Sisolack’s orders are consistent with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization. As of June 25, 2020, the CDC recommends wearing face coverings in the workplace. The CDC notes recent studies show that “a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.” The CDC recommends wearing cloth masks to avoid transmitting COVID-19 to other people through airborne fluid inhalation.
As of June 25, 2020, the World Health Organization also recommends that anyone who has underlying conditions and are under sixty years old wear non-medical masks in the workplace to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This is because healthy people who have COVID, but are asymptomatic, may spread the disease through normal every-day activities that cause the virus to become airborne such as coughing, sneezing, breathing, etc.
The WHO further recommends that anyone who is over sixty years old and/or has underlying conditions wear medical-grade masks to avoid contracting COVID-19. The WHO notes that in Asia where mask wearing is wide spread, including Hong Kong and Thailand, COVID-19 transmission has been non-existent.
Clark County Small Business Rental Assistance
Any small business that is $10,000 or more in rent arrears are eligible for a $10,000 grant from Clark County. A small business is defined as one with twenty or less full-time employees as of March 15, 2020 with an active business license. For more information, visit http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/brc/Pages/Small-Business-Stabilization-Grant.aspx