When we were notified that the masking mandate would take effect on Saturday, July 25th, 2020, there was a section that was concerning. Apparently back in May, there was a line in the masking mandate that mentioned that if a customer and a server were not able to maintain a proper social distance and the customer did not have a mask on, the server would be required to wear BOTH a mask and a face shield. It read as follows:
As explained in the following sections, this guidance requires all workers in bars and restaurants to wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose when in any part of the restaurant or bar—whether indoors or outdoors—unless a worker is working alone in an office or other enclosed or separated area where food is not stored, handled, or prepared. This guidance allows workers to wear face shields when a cloth face covering cannot be worn—such as when working in hot kitchens. This guidance also requires that workers who have face-to-face interactions with customers wear both a face covering and face shield when the customer is not wearing a face covering and it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from the customer.
This was not initially caught nor was it ever discussed with our hospitality group that meets weekly to discuss all issues that affect us during the emergency order period. I began to receive calls on this starting at 8am on July 23rd. By noon, I had received over 30 calls from very frustrated and angry business owners, asking why no one told them about the dual masking and face shield approach. I circled back to other hospitality members and we began to engage the problematic situation.
After a day of negotiation, media and social media attention, last evening we received an email from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, stating that after further review and the fact that the statewide masking mandate was successfully implemented, there was no further need to both mask and face shield with a customer that was within the 6’ forced distancing requirement.
The initial mandate to both mask and face shield came down from the Department of Labor to provide extra protection to workers in an environment in which customers were only encouraged to wear masks. DEED has now stated that because the mask mandate is in place, they have agreed the clause to use both masks and face shields are no longer needed and that they are going to REMOVE it from the guidance. Servers and staff are allowed to use either a mask OR a face shield. We have been encouraged to share this news with our networks as needed.
I applaud my partners in the hospitality industry for collaboratively working to resolve this problem with communication and look forward to turning the dial to the right! Please continue to check the DEED website for the new verbiage, once it is updated. As of today, we have not seen the final version updated on their website.
MLBA Executive Director