Governor Ends Mask Mandate In Nevada
February 11, 2022
Yesterday, Governor Sisolak announced an immediate end to Nevada’s mask mandate. This means that Nevada no longer requires people to wear masks in public places. The Governor’s Emergency Directive 52 specifically states, however, that “[n]othing in this Directive shall be interpreted to prohibit any local health authority, local government entity, school . . . , private business or employer, or other person or entity from enacting a policy that requires the use of face coverings.” Thus, the decision to require masks for employees and/or the public is now mainly up to individual employers, with the following caveats.
All employers must still comply with Nevada OSHA’s requirements which currently include COVID-19 prevention plans, monitoring of employee health status, sanitation, efforts to avoid congregation of employees in certain situations, PPE for first responders, and a job hazard analysis for certain workplaces. While we expect that these standards will be updated to address Emergency Directive 52, we do not expect NV OSHA to change these requirements.
Employers should also check their county’s COVID-19 requirements to determine whether their county has decided to follow the Governor’s lead or impose its own mask mandate. It appears that Clark County has embraced the Governor’s decision; it announced that “employees and visitors to County facilities will no longer be required to wear face coverings” with the exception of airport employees and visitors (in accordance with federal rules) and employees working in positions that require personal protective equipment.
Finally, certain industries will be governed by different rules. For example, health care employers will continue to follow the requirements of the Department of Health and Human Services, NV OSHA, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But the Nevada Gaming Control Board announced that “individuals are no longer required to wear a mask in public indoor settings in licensed gaming establishments, unless a local jurisdiction still imposes such a requirement. If a licensee is subject to a local jurisdiction’s requirement relating to masks, the Board expects full compliance from the licensee.”
As you decide whether to continue to require masks, keep in mind your general duty, under occupational safety laws, to protect employees from COVID-19, a recognized hazard. NV OSHA explains that employers must assess this hazard’s impact on employees and identify the measures needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Despite the political forces at work in every state, face coverings are still considered a “critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is nothing prohibiting an employer from continuing to require face coverings in the workplace and doing so for employees who interact with the public and/or work in close quarters is certainly reasonable.
If you choose not to require masks, be sure to notify all employees of their right to continue to wear a face covering. As the Governor’s guidance addresses, those who choose to wear a face covering should be protected from harassment.
KZA attorneys are available to help you with these decisions. We will continue to keep you updated on this matter.
KZA Employer Report articles are for general information only; they are not intended and should not be construed to be legal advice. Reading or replying to such articles does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In addition, because the subject matters and applicable laws discussed in Employer Report articles are often in a state of change and not always applicable to every type of business entity or organization, readers should consult with counsel before making decisions based on the same.