Governor seeks to align state COVID-19 workplace regulations with CDC guidelines

July 9, 2021

Deadline of July 31 to comment on proposal

In January of this year the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted a permanent workplace standard for Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus That Causes COVID-19 (16VAC25-220). The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) has drafted revisions to this standard which now account for the widespread deployment of vaccines in the workforce. Specifically, many of the restrictions and requirements (such as physical distancing and wearing of face coverings) for workplace safety and environment will not apply to fully vaccinated individuals. DOLI has provided a 30-day comment period on the draft revised standard. The online comment portal closes at midnight on July 31, 2021.

In addition to the proposed changes Governor Ralph Northam has recommended changes to 16VAC25-220-10E of the regulations. Under the current standard an employer’s compliance with any recommendation of the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate disease related hazards or job tasks “… provided that the CDC recommendation provides equivalent or greater protection than provided by a provision of this standard, the employer’s actions shall be considered in compliance with this standard.” The Governor is seeking removal of the condition that any CDC recommendation provide equivalent or greater protection than any provision of the state standard. The result of this recommended change would give the option to employers to comply with CDC guidance without having to additionally comply with the regulations of the proposed permanent state standard.

Upon completion of the comment period the board will meet to consider additional changes, including the Governor’s recommendation, and then vote to adopt amendments to the permanent standard.

VACo Contacts: Joe Lerch, AICP and Jeremy Bennett

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