By: Shannon Basile, Compliance Analyst
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has published updated FAQs for businesses regarding the use of face-coverings. The update provides anyone over the age of 2, who is not fully vaccinated must wear a face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain a 6-foot social distance. This does not apply to anyone with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering.
In addition, the guidance also states the locations where a face covering is still required regardless of vaccination status. Those locations are:
- Plans, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation;
- In transportation hubs, such as air ports and train and bus stations;
- In health care settings; and
- Congregate facilities, such as correctional facilities and homeless shelters.
In addressing whether or not a fully vaccinated person must wear a face covering as they are shopping or entering a business, the guidance defers to the business to make the decision that is best for its employees and customers. Credit unions should use the information provided by the IDPH and other factors as it makes decisions regarding the use of face masks. Considerations include:
- Knowledge of vaccinated staff;
- Ability to space out work zones in branches;
- Continuing the face covering requirement to avoid discriminating against unvaccinated employees;
- Informing employees that they must respect other employee and member decisions to continue wearing a face covering;
- Providing clear information regarding the credit union’s policy regarding face coverings to avoid any employee or member confusion; and
- Since this is an evolving situation, keep up to date on guidance issued by the CDC, federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws.
The IDPH FAQs encourage individuals to check with the business or look for published signage on the front door of the business to determine whether or not a face covering is required before entering. It also confirms that the business has the right to turn away an individual who does not comply with its face covering requirements, unless that individual has a medical condition or disability that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering. Keep in mind, anyone unable to wear a face covering may ask for a “reasonable accommodation” to enable them to be served by the business. The reasonable accommodation should not cause an undue hardship to the business. Some examples of a reasonable accommodations include:
- Allowing the individual to conduct business over the phone, do curb side pickup, or offer delivery to the individual’s home;
- Providing an opportunity for the individual to visit the location during non-peak or off hours; or
- Allowing the individual to leave a list of items (or transactions) with an employee to be competed or purchased later and mail the individual a receipt or coordinate a delivery or specific pick up time.
As Illinois moves into Phase 5, which is a full reopening without restrictions, credit unions may still use their own discretion when it comes to mask requirements for unvaccinated staff or members and other guests entering the branch. According to a recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated COVID-19 guidance statement, employers may require all employees physically entering their workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19. If the credit union decides to implement a vaccine requirement it should be prepared to provide a reasonable accommodation for employees who do not get vaccinated due to a disability, pregnancy, or a religious belief. Those accommodations can include requiring unvaccinated individuals to:
- Wear a mask and social distance;
- Work a modified shift; or
A vaccine requirement could also subject the credit union to a disparate impact claim from unvaccinated individuals who state that certain demographic groups face greater barriers to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.