Gov. Kathy Hochul ended New York state’s mask requirements for indoor public spaces on Feb. 10, 2022. However, counties and municipalities such as New York City still may choose to enforce their own orders, and businesses in the state still can require masks or proof of vaccination.
The NY HERO Act
Even though the state mask requirement for public indoor spaces has expired, all employers still are required to comply with the NY HERO Act, which requires employers to adopt policies that ensure the health and safety of their employees during a public health emergency, and to implement those policies when the New York state commissioner of health designates a disease as a highly contagious communicable disease.
Currently, COVID-19 is designated as a highly contagious communicable disease under the NY HERO Act. This designation is set to expire Thursday, March 17, 2022. Until the designation expires, employers are required to implement their airborne infectious disease prevention plans, which were required to be adopted last August and implemented when COVID-19 was designated as a highly contagious communicable disease last September (for the first time, after the NY HERO Act was signed).
The New York State Department of Labor issued an updated model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan on Feb. 10, 2022, which includes changes to mask requirements for the NY HERO Act. According to the model plan, if a business does not have a mask or proof-of-vaccination requirement for entry, masks still are recommended, but not required.
This update does not apply to preschools or K-2 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, health care, child care, group homes and other sensitive settings according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in which masks still are required.
PIANY members who adopted the model plan should review the updates and should decide whether to adopt these changes in their companies’ prevention plans. If the plan is updated, employers must inform their employees of the update.
For more information, see The NY HERO Act: Employer requirements.