Revised CDC Guidelines Reduce Number of Employees Required to Wear Masks

Author: Robert S. Teachout, Brightmine Legal Editor

March 1, 2022

Updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance regarding mask-wearing protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is expected to ease masking requirements for millions of employees.

Under the new guidelines, the recommended mask use will be based on three "community levels" that indicate the impact of COVID-19 on health and healthcare systems in the area.

  • A green level indicates a low level of risk of COVID-19 transmission, and individuals may wear a mask based on their personal preference, informed by their own level of risk.
  • A yellow level indicates a medium level of risk, and the CDC recommends individuals with a compromised immune system or at severe risk of illness wear a mask.
  • An orange level indicates a high risk, and individuals are advised to wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk and regardless of whether they are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness.

Despite the new guidance, employers still need to continue to be aware of and follow state and local face-covering requirements. If a worksite is in a location with a "green" community level, but the state or locality continues to require masks to be worn indoors or in certain settings, employers are still required to enforce mask-wearing requirements for their employees.

The revised guidance does not change the recommendations for people who have symptoms of COVID-19, positive COVID-19 test results, or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Such individuals should continue to wear a mask.

Under the new criteria, nearly 70 percent of the US population lives in an area now considered to be at low or medium risk.