On May 13, 2021, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the relaxation of mask requirements for anyone who has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. States where indoor and outdoor masks are mandated must decide whether to follow the latest recommendations from the CDC. NJ CAR recommends that dealerships MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO for the time being until the CDC, EEOC, and New Jersey give clear guidance for businesses and workplaces for the following reasons:
1. On May 14, 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy stated that the indoor mask mandate will remain in place in New Jersey and will be reevaluated in the coming weeks.
2. The May 13, 2021 CDC announcement recommends resuming activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. The announcement does not touch on activity in a business or the workplace except to say “you will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses”. The CDC’s “Post-vaccination Considerations for Workplaces”, updated on April 2, 2021, states that Employers should continue to follow the “Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Covid-19” (last updated on March 8, 2021).
3. New Jersey has not changed the current mitigation mandates that are in place for businesses. For dealerships, it means that you must (1) adopt a COVID policy; (2) Advise employees of the policy; and (3) obtain a signed acknowledgement from employees. Dealerships must continue to implement protocols including the following:
- Maintain proper social distancing within their facilities;
- Require face coverings by employees and customers;
- Limit capacity to allow for 6 feet of social distancing;
- Frequently sanitize high touch areas of the showroom and service waiting areas; and
- Sanitize vehicles before and after service, test drives and upon delivery.
4. The EEOC has not updated its COVID-19 guidance since December 16, 2020. It is expected they will update it to provide guidance on the treatment of unvaccinated and vaccinated employees in the workplace. Maintaining the status quo is important because dealerships should not treat unvaccinated and vaccinated employees differently. This could open the dealership up to liability even though unvaccinated persons are not a protected class. Because this area is currently unsettled it pays to be cautious.
While the CDC has recommended relaxation of the mask requirement for vaccinated individuals and New Jersey is expanding the capacity limits for indoor activities, they both have not relaxed the mitigation requirements for businesses and workplaces.
NJ CAR will continue to monitor the CDC, EEOC and Governor’s office for updates of the mitigation requirements due to the increase of vaccinated individuals and its impact on businesses and workplaces.