Effective April 20, 2020 at 8:00 p.m., employees in the workplace are required to wear a face mask or cloth face covering. Governor Lamont issued this directive as part of Executive Order No. 7BB, which also requires individuals in public to “cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering” when a “safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person” cannot be maintained. Connecticut follows New York’s lead once again, as New York previously implemented a substantively identical order.

Per Governor Lamont’s order, the Connecticut Department of Community and Economic Development’s Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers has been updated to require masks for all employees in the workplace. Employers are required to provide masks or cloth face coverings for all employees. In the event of a shortage or backlog, employers must enable employees to make and wear their own masks by providing the materials and a CDC tutorial, or reimburse employees for the cost of making their own masks or cloth face covering. Presumably, an employer is also required to reimburse employees for ready-made masks that they purchase in the event of an employer shortage.

There is one important exception—employers cannot force an employee to wear a mask if it would be contrary to the employee’s health or safety because of a medical condition. Employers cannot require medical documentation verifying an employee’s representation of such a medical condition.

Outside the workplace, Connecticut requires anyone waiting for or riding any mass or public transportation to wear a mask or face covering. Exempt from the order are children under two years of age, children over the age of two whose caretakers cannot “place the mask safely on the child’s face,” and people for whom a medical condition renders a mask contrary to their own health or safety.

Please contact the Murtha employment team with any questions concerning workplace face-covering requirements or any other COVID-19 related developments.