How to navigate mask usage in the office as companies reopen
Friday, January 15, 2021
To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a mask in public settings when social distancing is difficult to maintain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released temporary guidance under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to improve U.S. supplies of face masks for COVID-19. During the COVID-19 emergency, the FDA is using enforcement discretion to relax regulatory requirements and allow more masks onto the U.S. market faster.
This article describes what you, as a business leader, need to know about masks as you bring employees back into the office during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s start with some definitions
First, businesses should understand that the FDA regulates the definition of face masks, face shields, surgical masks and N95 respirators. This article will focus on the face mask, or cloth face covering designed to cover the nose and mouth. Your employees will need to wear masks or cloth face coverings in the office (when outside their cubes, and especially when in contact with others, even while they keep a distance of six feet apart). These masks may be disposable or reusable and are designed to prevent splashes, sprays, large droplets or splatter from entering the wearer’s mouth and nose. They also help prevent the wearer from spreading respiratory droplets or bodily fluids like those spread from a sneeze or cough. A face shield may be used with a face mask and is made of plastic to protects the eyes, nose and mouth from fluids, including respiratory droplets or bodily fluids.