Virginia First in the Nation to Impose COVID Safety Requirements for Employers

Waiter wearing a mask and holding a tray with coffee cups at an outdoor cafe during COVID-19 pandemciOn July 15, 2020, Virginia became the first state to require employers to adopt safety requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The rules likely will go into effect the week of July 27 after the final text of the rules are made public.  According to the Virginia Mercury, the rules will require that employers:

  • Mandate social distancing within the workplace,
  • Assess their workplaces for potential exposure to the virus,
  • Mandate face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions or when social distancing isn’t possible,
  • Sanitize common areas daily,
  • Provide easy and frequent access to handwashing and hand sanitizer,
  • Notify employees within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus, and
  • Bar employees known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19 from returning to work for at least three days after symptoms subside, at least 10 days after they were first diagnosed, or until they test negative for the virus.

For employers whose employees are at “high,” “very high,” or “medium” risk of coming into contact with the public or COVID positive people (such as health or retail workers), employers will be required to screen employees at the beginning of each shift and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  The rules were adopted over the objections of businesses and may be challenged in court.