Alabama Governor Kay Ivey entered an amended order to her original Safer at Home order on July 15, 2020. It generally requires masks or face coverings to be worn when people are within six feet of someone from a different household in the following situations: (1) indoor spaces that are open to the public; (2) in vehicles operated by transportation services; and (3) in outdoor public spaces where 10 or more people are gathered. There are a number of exceptions to the requirement, however, and generally businesses are not legally obligated to exclude customers or employees who refuse to wear a mask when required.
This order specifically impacts the workplace. It goes into effect on Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and runs through Friday, July 31, 2020. The following items relate particularly to employers and their employees:
- Businesses are not required to purchase masks for employees. Under prior Safer at Home orders, employers were already encouraged to promote mask use and social distancing measures, and those measures remain in the new order. The order requires businesses only to take reasonable steps, when practical, to encourage mask use by employees and customers.
- The facial covering requirements previously established for employees of close contact service providers, gyms, entertainment venues and restaurants remain in place. In these specific situations, employers must insure that their employees are wearing a facial covering while interacting with customers.
- Any person who is seeking to communicate with another person where the opportunity to see the other person’s mouth is essential for communication (such as when the other person has a hearing impairment) is an exception to the rule.
- Masks or other facial coverings can be factory-made, homemade, or improvised from household items such as scarves, bandanas, or T-shirts.
- The state has created signs that encourage persons (employees and customers) to wear a mask, which are available online.
- Employees can be required to remove the facial covering to confirm their identity, such as for security or screening purposes.
Protection for Employees
The following steps must be taken by all employers where practicable as work duties permit in order to protect their employees:
- Encouraging use of masks and facial coverings
- Maintaining six feet of separation between employees
- Regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces
- Encouraging handwashing
- Preventing employees who are sick from coming into contact with other persons
- Facilitating remote working arrangements
- Minimizing employee travel
In addition to complying with the requirements of this paragraph, employers are strongly encouraged to read and implement the Alabama Department of Public Health’s “Guidelines for Guarding All Businesses.”
Exceptions for Essential Job Functions
The facial-covering requirement does not apply to:
- Any first responder (including law enforcement officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel) if necessary to perform a public-safety function.
- Any person performing a job function if wearing a face covering is inconsistent with industry safety standards or a business’s established safety protocols.
Protections for Customers, Etc.
Effective July 16, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., and unless otherwise specified by this order, the operator of any business, government office, or other establishment open to the public shall take reasonable steps, where practicable, to protect their customers, constituents, or other guests by:
- Encouraging uses of masks and facial coverings.
- Maintaining six feet of separation between such persons (except for those persons who share the same household).
- Regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces.
Read the full Fourteenth Supplemental State of Emergency: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Office of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s website.