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Last year, Virginia implemented an emergency temporary standard to combat COVID-19. This year, Virginia made the standard permanent. On September 8, 2021, new updates to the Final Permanent Standard were issued to streamline the rules and make them compatible with current standards.
Exposure risk levels (lower, medium, high, very high) have been eliminated in favor of two main distinctions: “higher-risk” workplaces and healthcare services and support employers. Higher-risk workplaces are those with employees who are not fully vaccinated, are in a location with substantial or high community transmission (regardless of vaccination status), and otherwise at-risk workplaces where employees are working close together, have prolonged or frequent contact with coworkers or the public, work indoors with inadequate ventilation, may be exposed to the virus through respiratory droplets or aerosols, or commonly share employer-provided transportation and living quarters. The update also provides examples of higher-risk workplaces.
Because the requirements distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, employers need to determine who has been fully vaccinated. Employers can do this though an employee’s representation or attestation, or physical proof of vaccination status. Employers must also provide unvaccinated employees, fully vaccinated employees in areas of high or substantial community transmission, and at-risk employees with face coverings or surgical masks and require them to be work while indoors. There are additional requirements for employees who share a work vehicle or other transportation.
The Final Permanent Standard also expanded those who must implement an Infectious Disease Preparedness Response Plan in line with the changed exposure risk levels. Specifically, healthcare service and support employers and “higher-risk” workplaces with 11 or more employees must implement the plan by October 8, 2021. Fully vaccinated employees may be excluded from the employee count. Covered employers must also provide training on the hazards and characteristics of COVID-19. Unvaccinated employees must receive training on expanded topics, while fully vaccinated employees only need to receive written information on limited topics. Training requirements go into effect on November 7, 2021.
Finally, employers must now report to the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) and Virginia Department of Health (DVH) within 24 hours of discovering they have two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases present in the workplace within a 14-day period.
- Implement an Infectious Disease Preparedness Response Plan.
- Assess the vaccination status of workers.
- Provide appropriate face coverings at no cost to covered workers.
- Provide required training and materials to unvaccinated and fully vaccinated workers as required.
- Update reporting procedures for COVID-19 outbreaks.
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Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.
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