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Employee Connection

Mar 03

[ARCHIVED] City Manager's Message March 2: Masks optional; regular Covid-19 testing ends

The original item was published from March 3, 2022 4:19 PM to March 3, 2022 5:00 PM

I want to thank all of you for your patience and compliance with the ever-changing COVID-19 workplace safety guidance. I am pleased to announce that based on the steady decrease in COVID-19 case counts, new guidance from the CDC and actions taken by the Virginia Department of Labor & Industry pertaining to the Standard, a comprehensive COVID-19 workplace safety policy document that included safety requirements for employers, the following changes to the City’s policies and programs relating to COVID-19 are effective immediately:

  • Masking: City employees will no longer be required to wear face masks in the workplace. Employees who wish to continue to mask are, of course, free to do so. Masking will also become optional for members of the public. Signage at City facilities will be updated within the next week to reflect these changes. 
  • NOTE: Public safety departments may choose to require masking in certain circumstances due to the nature of interactions.
  • Testing: The City’s COVID-19 Mandatory Testing Program will sunset on the close of business Wednesday, March 2, 2022, and weekly testing will no longer be required after this date.
  • In-Person Meetings: In-person gatherings or meetings will not be discouraged, but employees are advised to avoid dense gatherings.
  • Elevator Usage: The two-person per elevator limit will be lifted.
  • COVID-19 Investigation Unit (CIU): The CIU will continue to provide services to those employees who find themselves exposed to COVID-19 and/or test positive for COVID-19. Employees should continue to notify their supervisor when they receive a positive COVID-19 test result. Employees must continue to adhere to the instructions provided by the CIU for isolation, quarantine, and return to work. Regardless of the COVID-19 Community Level, employees must wear a mask when instructed to by the CIU. 

The city has been following CDC recommendations throughout this pandemic and that guidance has helped us to maintain a safe work environment for our valued employees. On Friday, February 25, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 prevention guidance based on COVID-19 Community Levels. COVID-19 Community Levels are a measure of the impact of COVID-19 illness on health and healthcare systems and are a tool to help communities decide what prevention steps should be taken based on the latest data. The CDC currently recommends prevention steps based on COVID-19 Community Levels of low, medium and high. The new measures look not just at the number of new cases but also at the severity of those cases, measured by hospitalization rates.

At this time, the Hampton COVID-19 Community Level is LOW. At a LOW level, mask wearing is left to each individual’s personal preference.  Many people will choose to continue to wear masks, and those choices should be respected. However, masks are not required.

Please note that COVID-19 Community Levels can change rapidly. We will continue to monitor levels and will make every attempt to notify employees when there is a significant change to our COVID-19 Community Level and associated guidelines. The chart below outlines guidance on when to wear a mask based on the current COVID-19 Community Level. (CDC Guide to Masks).  

Employees are encouraged to continue frequent hand washing and to stay home if you are not feeling well.  

Telework options continue to be available to employees as permitted by city and departmental policies and in accordance with departmental staffing needs. Please consult with your supervisor regarding requests to telework.

Our goal over these past two years has been to keep City employees as safe as possible by closely monitoring the changing circumstances and making decisions based on the latest information. These decisions have not been taken lightly, and I recognize that there will always be some employees who disagree with aspects of our workplace guidance. However, even as our opinions may vary, it is important for us to continue treating each other with respect and compassion because this pandemic has been difficult for everyone.

Even as the restrictions ease, we want to continue doing our part to make our workplace as safe as possible. We will continue monitoring the situation and making adjustments to our workplace safety guidance as needed.  If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me or your supervisor.  

Thank you again for your patience and flexibility in serving our community during these complicated circumstances. 

— Mary