Employees, who interact with the public, required to wear masks; is it enough?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Public Health Department Director Dr. Michael Caldwell has revised Public Health Order 4 to require all employees who interact with the public, or who cannot maintain a safe social distance from their co-workers, to wear a face-covering or mask. 

Public Health Order 4 directs businesses and facilities that are open to the public to place signage at all entrances, asking the public to wear a cloth facial covering.

“The use of masks by employees is a good idea especially if they’re going to be face to face with customers or patrons or they can’t socially distance from one another,” said Dr. David Aronoff, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.​

Dr. Aronoff said face coverings are helpful in limiting the spread of COVID-19, especially when it comes to those who are asymptomatic.

“Ideally, both customers and employees would be wearing cloth masks, obviously in restaurants it’s really difficult if not impossible to eat and drink through a mask,” Dr. Aronoff said. He added that as long as employees are not by patrons for more than 10 minutes, standing closer then six feet, the risk of spreading COVID-19 isn’t that high.

“Brief interactions between asymptomatic people are really low risk and made even lower when people are wearing cloth masks,” he said. “Thirty seconds, a minute or even a couple of minutes of interaction between two asymptomatic people is low risk for virus transmission, the issue for employees, is they may have many of those interactions in a course of a day.”

Dr. Aronoff said it’s important to keep a few things in mind when wearing a mask:

1. Wash your hands or sanitize before and after each mask use.

2. Keep in mind, cloth masks protect other’s health more than they protect your own.

3. N95 respirators and surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by the CDC.

4. Children younger than two years old should not wear a facial covering, nor should others of any age for whom wearing a mask would be contrary to the health or safety of the wearer.

The Metro Public Health Department will use all available enforcement options to ensure compliance with the Order.

The revised Public Health Order 4 will remain in effect through 11:59 p.m. on May 31, unless otherwise extended.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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