Face masks nonetheless wanted at instances

Pennsylvania’s mask mandate is slated to end on June 28 or earlier when 70% of the state’s adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

From this point onwards, people who are not fully vaccinated will be allowed to remove their face masks in indoor public areas and during crowded outdoor gatherings.

David Bruce

But that doesn’t mean you can just throw away the face mask you’ve been wearing for the past 15 months.

Individual companies and employers may still require their customers and employees to wear face masks or provide evidence of COVID-19 vaccination to avoid wearing them.

Employers can even require their employees to be vaccinated in order to keep their jobs. On June 12, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Houston Methodist employees who refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment.

Other health systems, including the University of Pennsylvania, are considering similar vaccine requirements.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employers can generally require their workers to get vaccinated as long as they offer religious and medically necessary exemptions.

There are also restrictions on the type of questions employers can ask about vaccination if they were to expose a worker’s disability, the EEOC said on its website.

The rules for the mask requirement after June 28th are clearer. They are still needed under certain circumstances.

Masks are still required:

  • When traveling on planes, buses, trains, and other public transportation, as well as in places such as airports, bus and train stations.
  • Long-term care facilities, hospitals, prisons, and the homeless shelters may still require face masks, depending on local guidance.

Other companies may still require face masks for customers and employees, and that requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination doesn’t violate patient privacy laws, according to the Associated Press.

Asking for proof of vaccination does not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Title III of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, as suggested by some recently published social media posts, the AP reported.

“I don’t see how the Fourth Amendment will be relevant to private employers or private companies in this case,” said Glenn Cohen, law professor and bioethics expert at Harvard University.

The posts also suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, protects individuals from being asked about vaccination status, the AP reported.

According to experts, this is not correct. Businesses have special discrimination considerations outlined in the Americans With Disabilities Act and Civil Rights Act, but these would not prevent a company from asking a customer or employee about vaccination status.

The bottom line is that you should tuck a face mask in your back pocket when you head out just in case you go anywhere that face masks are still needed.

HERE to HELP: Do you have a consumer question you’d like us to help you with? Leave a message to David Bruce at 870-1736, email [email protected], or email 205 W. 12th St., Erie, PA 16534.

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