President Biden immediately made good on his promise to mandate wearing masks and maintaining social distancing on federal property after he taking office today.
He signed an Executive Order instituting a national mask mandate on federal property along with numerous other executive orders shortly after arriving at the White House.
The intent of the Order is to protect federal employees. Part of the new Order reads, “…to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce, and to ensure the continuity of Government services and activities, on-duty or on-site Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines.”
It directs agency heads “to require compliance with CDC guidelines with respect to wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and other public health measures by: on-duty or on-site Federal employees; on-site Federal contractors; and all persons in Federal buildings or on Federal lands.”
The masking Order also mandates establishing a task force to address certain COVID-19 related subjects as they apply to the health and safety of the federal workforce, such as testing methodologies, contact tracing, air filtration, requirements of and limitations on physical distancing, including recommended occupancy and density standards, safe commuting and telework options, and enhanced technological infrastructure to support telework.
The Order also directs the Health and Human Services secretary to develop a COVID-19 testing plan for the federal workforce. “This plan shall be based on community transmission metrics and address the populations to be tested, testing types, frequency of testing, positive case protocols, and coordination with local public health authorities for contact tracing,” reads the Executive Order.
A copy of the executive order is included below.
On Friday, President Biden also signed an Executive Order requiring masks to be worn in airports, and on airplanes, trains, public maritime vessels, and intercity buses.
The incoming Biden administration also issued a regulatory freeze on new regulations coming from federal agencies to ensure that the new administration has time to review any new regulations that might have been issued. This is a normal course of business for a change in administrations.