Mask Wearing Policy Returns
In the past 24 hours, the federal government has reimposed mask wearing in federal facilities to help control the spread of COVID-19 among the federal workforce and in our communities.
Starting today, all employees and contractors working in federal buildings and offices must wear face masks, regardless of their vaccination status. All visitors are required to have masks on as well.
And on Thursday, President Biden may announce a vaccine policy for the federal workforce. We do not yet know the details of this plan and it could take many forms. Once any plan is announced, NTEU will fully review it and share our analysis with you.
It is possible that the administration could impose special protocols for unvaccinated employees to follow, such as regular COVID-19 testing. We also are awaiting more information on whether any new vaccination requirements will apply to all federal workers or just those certain occupations such as employees who interact with members of the public. For example, the VA’s vaccination mandate applies to frontline workers who provide health care to our nation’s veterans. The VA policy of mandatory vaccinations is supported by a legal opinion released by the Department of Justice earlier this week.
NTEU has strongly encouraged the employees we represent to take the vaccine if they are medically able. But with COVID-19 cases now surging again in many parts of the country, the administration apparently is exploring options to slow transmission of the virus that has killed more than 611,000 Americans. Information on where to obtain a vaccination is available at www.vaccines.gov.
Among the details we will be looking for if a new policy is announced are occupations subject to mandatory vaccinations, how a possible testing program may be rolled out and how the government plans to pay for it, exemptions for medical or religious reasons, and a timeframe for implementation. As always, NTEU will address with agencies any new policies and procedures.
Regardless of the details of any new administration policy, NTEU will work to ensure that employees continue to have adequate paid time to obtain the vaccine and recover from any side effects or, in some cases, provide the necessary medical or religious information about why they cannot.