Governor Dan McKee on Wednesday, December 16, 2021 established a universal mask mandate for the state of Rhode Island. The new rules will be implemented on Monday, December 20th and affect companies of all sizes, including manufacturers.
The Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA) and Polaris MEP have been communicating with state officials about the mask mandate. Dave Chenevert of RIMA has been told that the Department of Business Regulation will be doing visits to ensure compliance.
Below is a summary of the new state mask mandate, some reminders from Dave and myself, and links to resources.
We’ve seen again and again how manufacturers put worker safety first. I know our community will be able to handle these new guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
New Mask Mandate In Effect December 20, 2021
Per Governor McKee’s announcement, there are three categories of organizations, each with its own requirements:
1. Indoor customer/public facing venues with capacity of 250 or more people;
2. Indoor customer/public facing venues with capacity less than 250 people; and
3. Office-based and other public/private employers.
For offices, manufacturers and other businesses with indoor operations,
“Masking is required of all individuals (including employees and customers/patrons) indoors unless they are fully vaccinated. Businesses may choose to implement this requirement through one of the following:
- An establishment-wide indoor masking requirement;
- An establishment-wide indoor proof of vaccination requirement;
- Requiring individuals to either show proof of vaccination or wear masks indoors.
Establishments will need to post signage at the entrances of their premises communicating the policy they choose.
Establishments will need to enforce the policy they choose.”
The state is currently defining an individual as “fully vaccinated” if they have received either two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
RESOURCE: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to indoor masking and vaccination posted by the State of Rhode Island.
Reminders from RIMA & Polaris MEP
1. Secure a list of employees who are vaccinated.
Employers should have a list of those employees who have been vaccinated and list of those required to wear a mask per state guidelines. Management should verify vaccination status of employees by checking the actual card.
In the event you are audited you can show your list and that you are enforcing the state guidelines.
2. Secure a list of employees who are NOT vaccinated, and require they use masks at all times.
These workers MUST wear a mask while in your buildings. The same guidelines our community used prior to vaccinations will be in effect. Let safety and common sense guide use of masks while around machinery.
3. In break areas/cafeterias, employees who are not vaccinated should be distanced as a precaution.
The masks work by unvaccinated workers can be lowered briefly to put food/drink in their mouths. Encourage them to raise the mask again while chewing, swallowing, etc.
RESOURCE: Download the latest version of the Polaris MEP/RIMA COVID-19 “Playbook,“with guidance on handling break rooms and other common spaces. Note that some guidance will be changing based on vaccine status.
4. If you admit anyone who is not an immediate employee, first confirm their vaccination status.
This would apply to non-personnel such as repair personnel or delivery (UPS, FedEx, etc.) If they can verify they have been vaccinated, it is up to you whether to require a mask to enter the building. If they cannot, they must wear a mask to enter.
5. The state continues to offer free COVID-19 testing kits for companies that would like to further protect workers and production.
I can be reached by email ([email protected]) or phone (508-523-5498) if you’d like additional help from Polaris MEP’s experienced project managers in communicating changes or adapting processes.