Virginia has adopted permanent COVID-19 safety rules for employers that
will remain in effect as long as the commonwealth remains in a state of
emergency. When that ends, the Safety and Health Codes Board will determine
whether the need for the standard continues.
For the most part, the
permanent standard follows the emergency standard issued in July 2020. A July 20, 2020,
McGuireWoods alert, “Virginia Issues First-in-the-Nation COVID-19 Safety Rules for Employers,” discussed the features of the emergency standard. However, the new
permanent standard includes important changes and mandates that employers
Most notably, the permanent standard revises the process for clearing
employees to return to work following infection. Employers may no longer
use testing to accelerate returns to work. Under the new rules, symptomatic
employees must stay out at least 10 days from the first appearance of
symptoms; asymptomatic employees cannot return until 10 days have passed
from the date of their positive test.
Employers also are no longer required to report each confirmed COVID-19
case to the Virginia Department of Health. Instead, an employer now must
report when it has two or more confirmed cases over a 14-day period in
employees who are present in the workplace.
The permanent standard contains additional mandates, including that
- provide acceptable face coverings to employees who interface with
customers or other individuals;
- provide wraparound face shields to employees who cannot wear face
coverings due to medical conditions;
- implement hazard controls for employees required to share vehicles with
- ensure that appropriate and feasible engineering controls are in place
for air-handling systems (applicable to medium- and high-risk exposure jobs
- consider additional factors in assessing exposure risks as part of their
Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plans.
Finally, employers that implemented Infectious Disease Preparedness and
Response Plans and conducted training required by the temporary standard
should supplement both to account for the permanent standard’s new
provisions. The permanent standard gives employers until March 26, 2021 to
update plans and trainings.
For assistance in complying with these new rules while maintaining
productivity in the workplace, please contact the authors, other members of
the McGuireWoods labor and employment team or your McGuireWoods contact.
McGuireWoods has established a COVID-19 Response Team to help clients
navigate urgent and evolving legal and business issues arising from the
novel coronavirus pandemic. Lawyers in the firm’s 21 offices are ready to
assist quickly on questions involving healthcare, labor and employment,
education, real estate and more. For assistance, contact a team member or