Virginia Governor Issues Public Mask Requirement

Mandatory for employees of essential retail businesses

Effective Friday, May 29th, Virginians age ten (10) and older must wear cloth face coverings in public, and employees of essential retail businesses must wear face coverings when working in customer-facing areas.   Rules are pending on how the rules would apply to offices and other businesses where employees are not often interacting with the public.

 Where Do You Have to Wear Face Coverings?

Requires patrons to wear face coverings when entering, exiting, and spending time in:

  • All brick-and-mortar retail businesses;
  • Personal care and grooming businesses (e.g., beauty salons, barbershops, spas);
  • Food and beverage establishments (e.g., restaurants, food courts, farmers markets);
  • Entertainment and recreation (e.g., theaters, performing arts, concerts, museums);
  • Public transportation (e.g., train stations, bus stations, trains, taxis, and cars for hire);
  • Any other indoor spaces shared by groups of people near each other; or
  • State and local government buildings when accessed to obtain public services.

Are There any Exceptions?

  • In residences;
  • Participating in religious rituals;
  • Eating or drinking;
  • Exercising or using exercise equipment;
  • Students in daycare centers;
  • Those participating in in-person K-12 or higher education;
  • Anyone who has difficulty breathing with a mask on; or
  • Anyone who cannot wear a mask because of health conditions.

 Are Employers Required to Ensure Compliance?

Currently, Virginia does not require employers to provide face coverings to employees or customers. Similarly, the Order does not penalize employers for employees who refuse to comply or for customers refusing to wear face coverings. Nevertheless, you should tread lightly when an employee or customer refuses to wear a mask. Because exceptions to the Order exist for health-related conditions, you should ensure compliance with all privacy obligations and be careful to avoid claims of discrimination based on disabilities or perceived disabilities.