Way back in April, the state first instituted a mandatory mask and face covering rule under Executive Order 7BB. 

On Friday, the state updated it in Executive Order 7NNN by requiring medical documentation in order to be exempt. Here’s all that you need to know on the changes.

The new rule states: “Effective immediately, any person in a public place in Connecticut, whether indoors or outdoors, who does not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering. In addition, individuals shall use a mask or cloth face covering when using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing or similar service, or any means of mass public transit, or while within any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area.”

What’s changed? The basic mask rule remains the same. Go to any public place where you end up being within six feet of someone else and you need to cover your mouth and nose. The previous rule said those who were “unable to” maintain a safe distance also needed to wear a mask, but that language was removed, presumably for the sake of clarity.

The new rule states: “Nothing in this order shall require the use of a mask or cloth face covering by anyone for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition, a child in a child care setting, or anyone under the age of 2 years. Any person who declines to wear a mask or face covering because of a medical condition shall be exempt from this order and any requirement to wear masks in Sector Rules or other rules issued by the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), but only if such person provides written documentation that the person is qualified for the exemption from a licensed medical provider, the Department of Developmental Services or other state agency that provides or supports services for people with emotional, intellectual or physical disabilities, or a person authorized by any such agency. Such documentation need not name or describe the condition that qualifies the person for the exemption.”

What’s changed? The medical exemption language has changed in several respects. First, it eliminated the exemption for an “older child” if the parent was unable to place the mask safely on the child.  So all kids over 2 are now required to wear a mask (except in a child care setting).  Second, medical documentation is now required in order for a person to claim an exemption from the mandatory mask rule. Presumably, the documentation must be carried at all times in a public place as well.

The new rule also states that the DECD must issue new updated sector rules to reflect these changes.

Thus, you will find the new “documentation” rule reflected on the new sector rules. For example, for essential employers, the rule now states that “Employees that cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition must provide documentation to their employer”.

For other businesses, the guidance has been updated with the same language and also language to make it clear that “businesses have a right to refuse service to an individual who is not wearing a mask.”  Offices have similar rule changes. 

The new Executive Order will help employers manage the face covering rule in the workplace a little bit easier and more closely tracks the ADA’s language where an employer can ask for documentation of a disability and accommodation that may not be obvious.

Businesses should remain mindful that the ADA’s public accommodations statute may have obligations on the business to find alternatives to delivery of the services or availability of products.  Be sure to talk with your counsel before implementing any changes.

Employers should update the training provided to employees and their policies regarding masks and face coverings to address this new language ASAP.