Federal Employees: Get Out Those Masks Again for Offices in DC

OMB is telling agencies to require all federal employees and others to wear masks in agencies where there is a high transmission of the virus.

Keeping up with recommendations, requirements, suggestions, and mandates from the federal government regarding the COVID problem is dizzying. As of this moment, here is the latest.

The Biden administration is now telling agencies to require federal employees, contractors, and visitors to start wearing masks indoors—without regard to their vaccination status—where there is a high degree of community transmission, according to an article in The Hill.

This apparently applies to agencies in the Washington, DC area. It will also apply to agencies in other areas where there is substantial transmission of the virus.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent out a notice to agencies late Tuesday with the latest update emanating from the administration. The instructions are apparently based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updating its guidance. The latest iteration concludes that fully vaccinated Americans should wear face coverings indoors in areas of the country where there is “substantial” or “high” transmission. 

“This pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to the health of all Americans,” according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “Today, we have new science related to the delta variant that requires us to update the guidance regarding what you can do when you are fully vaccinated.”

The latest guidance also recommends that school children wear masks in school this Fall, although it is not clear if this is essential for children.

Those who have not been fully vaccinated have previously been told to wear masks. Agencies were advised in May that federal employees who have been vaccinated do not need to wear masks.

As published on FedSmith recently, the Biden administration will start requiring vaccinations or specific alternative measures for all federal employees.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47