It’s been over a year since COVID-19 made its way into the U.S. As the pandemic started to pick up, there was a lot of uncertainty, confusion, and probably some anger as we watched long anticipated events get canceled and had to drive to 5 different stores just to find toilet paper. Mask mandates and other COVID-19 regulations had been put in place. Masks must be worn, social distancing must be followed, and many businesses left with no choice but to operate at half the capacity they normally would. But now, there might just be a light at the end of the tunnel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. Also most businesses can return to operating at full capacity.
Individual businesses can still require mask wearing by their employees and patrons, as well as enforce social distancing if they choose to. While of course we’re all eager to implement these new guidelines, experts say that employers shouldn't be too swift to throw away COVID-19 policies completely. There are some cases where the CDC says masks must still be worn, such as in hospitals or long term care facilities where people are more at risk. If you're traveling by public transportation such as a bus or airplane, facial coverings are still required, as well as at transportation hubs.
Retailers and restaurants will be faced with new challenges as they lift their COVID-19 policies. One of the biggest concerns is how will employers and employees know who is vaccinated and who is not? The answer is simple, we won't know. It’s created a lot of confusion so far for businesses, who will be left to make and enforce their own rules. Some companies such as Starbucks and Home Depot have already announced they are keeping their COVID-19 policies in place for the foreseeable future.
We all hope to return to normal soon, but this doesn't mean we need to leave some of our pandemic habits behind. Hand washing, workplace cleanliness, encouraging employees not to come to work when they aren't feeling well (why was this not important before?!) have all been highlighted throughout this pandemic, and will aid in keeping people safe, not just from Covid but other viruses and illnesses as well.
Let’s not throw away the hand sanitizer or stop our cleaning routines just because COVID-19 cases have dropped. We all have learned important lessons throughout the past year, one of them being how important of a role hygiene and cleanliness plays in keeping us safe.