Virginia Issues Third Iteration of Emergency COVID-19 Regulations
Update Applicable to:
All employers in Virginia.
On August 26, 2021, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted revised amendments to the Final Permanent Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19 (the Final Permanent Standard).
What are the details?
The amended Final Permanent Standard became effective on September 8, 2021 and contains several notable changes with some detailed below. The full list can be found in the Final Permanent Standard.
Higher-risk workplaces have been re-defined with the new Final Permanent Standard. The standard defines higher-risk workplaces to include those employers with employees who are not fully vaccinated; employees whose workplace is in a location with substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status; and otherwise at-risk employees in workplaces where there is heightened risk due to factors, such as where employees who are not fully vaccinated or are otherwise at-risk:
- are working close to one another.
- often have prolonged closeness to coworkers or potential frequent contact with members of the public.
- work in enclosed indoor spaces with inadequate ventilation where other coworkers or members of the public are present.
- may be exposed to the virus through respiratory droplets or aerosols in the air.
- engage in a common practice of sharing employer-provided transportation and communal housing or living quarters.
Vaccinations for employees is not required in the Final Permanent Standard, but additional requirements are imposed on employees who have not been fully vaccinated. When verifying an employee’s vaccination status, the Final Permanent Standard permits an employer to rely on an employee’s representation of being fully vaccinated, without providing proof of vaccination. That said, an employer is not precluded from requiring proof of vaccination.
Subject to certain exceptions, employers must provide and require unvaccinated employees, fully vaccinated employees in areas of substantial or high community transmission, and otherwise at-risk employees (because of a prior transplant or other medical condition) to wear face coverings or surgical masks while indoors, unless their work task requires a respirator or other personal protective equipment.
There has also been a change to the requirements for employers to implement an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. Any health care or health care support employer as well as any employers with higher-risk workplaces with 11 or more employees must have an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. When counting the employees, the employer may exclude fully vaccinated employees.
The Final Permanent Standard can be read here.
An article on the Final Permanent Standard can be read here.
What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the Final Permanent Standard and all of the updated changes and requirements to apply any updates to their applicable policies and procedures to stay in compliance with Virginia’s COVID-19 prevention.