To Mask Or Not to Mask (in the workplace)

Remember last year when the pandemic started? I remember wearing protective gloves and an N-95 mask whenever I had to go get groceries. Well, before I clued into online ordering and delivery, of course. 

Fast forward 20 months later and here we are. More and more people now are coming out of hiding and returning to the workplace.

We have been very busy lately drafting return to work and vaccination policies for our clients who want to have a clear protocol in place when their employees return.

One assumption that seems to be made by some of our clients is that masks are no longer mandatory at all times, while in the workplace. They seem surprised when we prepare policies that include the requirement that employees must always wear masks when indoors at work.

“What about if they are properly distanced?”

“What if they are in their office?”

“What if no one else is around?”

We get all kinds of scenarios from our clients where they expect it would be permissible to allow employees to roam mask-free indoors.

We have the unfortunate job of telling them that masks are still mandatory for employees in indoor workplaces.

Ontario Regulation 364/20 under Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to Covid-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 17 (“O-reg 364-20”) states that if you are responsible for a business that is open, then you are required to ensure that any person in indoors on the premises wears a mask during the period they are indoors. Yes, we agree, its broad.

The exception?

You can remove your mask under O-reg 364-20 if you are eating or drinking, provided you can distance yourself from others by at least 2 meters or be separated by plexiglass.

What’s a blog without a point?  Stop making assumptions when it comes to employees returning to work. Get someone who knows what they are doing to draft a proper policy. Message received? 

Now mask up! *removes mask* I’m going to take a sip of my coffee now…

Robin K. Mann, JD