MTP/MS Interministerial Ordinance 17, published on April 1, amended Annex I of Joint Ordinance 20/20 to update the measures to be observed to prevent, control, and mitigate the risks of covid-19 transmission in work environments.
Among the main changes, we highlight the possibility of releasing the use of a protective mask in work environments where, by decision of the federal entity (state or municipality) where the company is located, the use of a protective mask is not mandatory in closed places.
With this change in the federal rule, it becomes possible for companies to stop requiring the use of masks by employees on their premises in states and municipalities that have local regulations that do not require the use of masks indoors.
Depending on local legislation, however, maintenance of masks in work environments may still be required. Below we look at the possible scenarios based on the new rules:
- If there is a local legislation that expressly releases the use of masks indoors, the employer can waive the requirement that its employees wear masks in the workplace in the respective locality.
- If the state/municipality has not released the use of mask in closed environments, the employer must follow the rules for mask use in closed environments defined by the state/municipality, observing the most restrictive rule.
- If the state/municipality issues a rule mandating that the measures established by federal ordinances must be followed or is silent about the release of the use of masks in closed places, the employer must follow the rules of Joint Ordinance 20/20, as amended by Interministerial Ordinance MTP/MS 17. Therefore, the use of masks should be required in shared environments or those in which there is contact with other employees or the public, when the health alert level in the state is at levels 3 or 4 in the preceding epidemiological week, according to the publication "Risk Assessment in the Covid-19 Scenario", in the Section "Epidemiological Status of Covid-19 by State and Regions/Brazil", available at the website of the Ministry of Health.
It should be noted that, regardless of whether local or federal legislation lifts the requirement to wear masks indoors, the employer may, at its sole discretion, continue to require employees to wear masks on its premises if it deems it necessary.
Interministerial Ordinance MTP/MS 17 goes into effect on the date of its publication (April 1st).