Omicron, the OSHA ETS/CMS IFR, and Updated CDC Guidelines

Omicron, the OSHA ETS/CMS IFR, and Updated CDC Guidelines
Omicron
Various municipalities in New Jersey, such as Newark, Paterson, and Hoboken, re-instituted mask mandates for government buildings and require proof of vaccination for certain types of businesses. As of December 28, 2021, these mandates and policies have not been the subject of a new Executive Order and are not required statewide. All employers, both public and private, may institute COVID-19 mitigation policies (like masking, vaccination, or testing) as necessary.
 
OSHA COVID-19 ETS
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring any workplace with 100 or more employees to institute and follow a written “vaccinate or test” policy prior to the January 10, 2022 deadline has been reinstated by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on the issue, which are set to occur on January 7, 2022. The ETS requirements include drafting written policies on vaccination, testing, masking, religious and medical exemptions, etc. Employers are also required to develop and implement an administrative system to track the vaccination statuses and/or weekly COVID-19 test results for all of their employees. Covered employers are encouraged to continue their efforts to comply with the ETS requirements until a final determination is made by the Supreme Court.
 
CMS IFR
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Interim Final Rule (CMS IFR) was reinstated by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in all states that were not party to the original lawsuit. For New Jersey and all neighboring states, the CMS IFR is in force. This mandate will be considered alongside the OSHA ETS on January 7, 2022 in the Supreme Court. Covered employers are encouraged to continue their efforts to comply with the IFR requirements until a final determination is made by the Supreme Court.
 
CDC Guidelines for Quarantining and Isolation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened the recommended times that people should isolate when they've tested positive for Covid-19 from 10 days to five days if they don't have symptoms -- and if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days.
 
Similarly, the CDC also shortened the recommended time for people to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus to five days if they are vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated and boosted may not need to quarantine at all if they are asymptomatic.
 
People whose symptoms are getting better may also leave their homes after five days so long as their symptoms are improving. People who have a fever should stay home until the fever clears up.
 
These guidelines do not have the force of law, but employers are encouraged to follow them to ensure a safe workplace for all employees. Employers are also encouraged to review the details of these new safety guidelines on the CDC website, available here.
 
There is no federal or state law in place requiring employers provide paid time off for employees who are quarantining after COVID-19 exposure. Policies that address all COVID-19 related issues are recommended for all workplaces.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, or would like assistance in developing any workplace policies, reach out to the LCR COVID-19 Advisory Team at Laddey, Clark & Ryan, LLP at 973-729-1880 or via email:
The foregoing is not intended, and should not be construed as, legal advice or guidance or an offer to provide legal services by Laddey, Clark & Ryan, LLP. The contents of this communication is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on, or considered, in making any decisions or taking any actions. If you wish to inquire about legal services, please contact Laddey, Clark & Ryan, LLP, at lcr@lcrlaw.com.