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Q: Can agencies make exceptions to implementation of Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance?

A: Executive Order 13991 directs agencies to, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, require compliance with CDC guidance with respect to wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and other public health measures by: on-duty or onsite Federal employees; onsite Federal contractors; and all persons in Federal buildings or on Federal lands. Executive Order 13991 also provides that heads of agencies may make categorical or case-by-case exceptions to the extent that doing so is necessary or required by law, and consistent with applicable law. Agencies should consult with the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force prior to an agency head approving any such exceptions. If agencies have implementation challenges or operational circumstances that may require other or additional prevention measures beyond those set forth in Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, or otherwise require the agency to adopt COVID-19 workplace safety protocols that differ from Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance unless for reasons of following setting-specific CDC guidance, agencies should consult the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force regarding exceptions, prior to implementing any such other or additional measures or protocols.

Q: Are there settings for which agencies should put in place different or additional COVID-19 workplace safety protocols than set forth in Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance?

A: Pursuant to Executive Order 13991, Federal agencies must follow CDC guidance related to certain settings where different or additional layers of prevention are recommended by CDC, including, for example, travel and the indoor transportation corridor, schools, health care settings, congregate settings, and correctional facilities. Where there is a conflict with more general Safer Federal Workforce Task Force or CDC guidance, agencies must follow the setting-specific CDC guidance.

In addition, to be consistent with Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, where a locality has imposed additional pandemic-related requirements more protective than those set forth in Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, agencies would need to follow those additional local requirements in Federal buildings, in Federally controlled worksites, on Government-operated transportation conveyances, and on Federal land in that locality. For example, if a locality has imposed mask-wearing requirements for indoor facilities, agencies would need to apply those requirements in Federal facilities, even if not otherwise required under agency mask-wearing protocols.