On March 8, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released its highly anticipated guidance for fully vaccinated people, the first set of recommendations it has released on the subject. As state and local authorities have closely aligned with the CDC’s COVID-19 recommendations and followed its lead, the guidance provides the first insight into potential state and local restrictions (or lack thereof) for fully vaccinated people.
The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after he or she has received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
The guidance provides that fully vaccinated people can:
Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing;
Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing; and
- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Take precautions in public like wearing a mask and physical distancing;
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at risk for severe COVID-19;
- Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households;
- Avoid medium and large-sized in-person gatherings;
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms;
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers; and
- Continue to follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.
It is important to note that these are merely recommendations and people must continue to follow the various state and local orders of their jurisdiction, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated. California has yet to issue expansive guidance related specifically to fully vaccinated people. Nor has the County or City of Los Angeles.
However, the aggressive approach taken by the CDC will likely be followed soon by similar state and local guidance for fully vaccinated people. As such, there could be different rules applying to fully vaccinated people and those that are not vaccinated, with the fully vaccinated being exempt from many of the COVID-19 related restrictions.
For employers, this likelihood creates a large incentive for having a vaccinated workforce, as well as a dilemma for employees who refuse to receive the vaccination. While EEOC guidance indicates that employers may be able to require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, the prudence of a workplace vaccine mandate must be carefully considered. Thus far, no other agency has weighed in on the subject.
As more people get vaccinated and it becomes likely that vaccinated people will be subject to their own set of less restrictive rules, employers should begin to form a strategy on how they will adjust to the new reality.
We will continue to monitor major COVID-19 related developments that impact the workplace. If you have any questions about the matters discussed in this issue of Compliance Matters, please call your firm contact at 818-508-3700 or visit us online at www.brgslaw.com
Richard S. Rosenberg
Katherine A. Hren
Charles H.W. Foster
Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt, LLP