SALISBURY, MD. – Perdue Farms applauded new emergency workplace safety rules recently enacted by the state of Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board voted to approve an emergency temporary standards that require all employers to mandate social distancing measures and face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions and when social distancing is not possible; provide frequent access to hand washing or hand sanitizer, and regularly clean high-contact surfaces.

The new standards also require all employees be notified within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus. Employees who are known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work for 10 days or until they receive two consecutive negative tests.

These temporary emergency standards will remain in effect for six months and can be made permanent or revoked. Mark McKay, president of Perdue Foods, welcomed the emergency rules and applauded state officials. Perdue Farms already had implemented measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“While we are already – and have been beginning in early March – in compliance with the State of Virginia’s new safety measures in accordance with CDC guidelines, we welcome these requirements and applaud the officials responsible for enacting them with the shared value of protecting our colleagues and neighbors,” McKay said. “Perdue Farms firmly believes that the health of our associates must come first in everything we do. Our ability to be part of our nation's food supply throughout this pandemic is due to our company’s, including our associates’, responsiveness and attention to social distancing, sanitation, use of masks and other personal protective equipment, and much more to keep COVID-19 at bay.”

Safety guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were recommendations, and employers were not required to follow them, according to the Charlottesville, Va.-based Legal Aid Justice Center. Workers will now benefit workplace protections that employers are required to implement. In May, Governor Ralph Northam directed the creation of enforceable workplace standards that mandate the use of personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across Virginia.

“This historic victory will ensure that workers’ health is protected and that businesses are part of the solution to curbing the spread of the virus,” said Jason Yarashes, lead attorney and program coordinator at the Legal Aid Justice Center. “We commend Governor Northam, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industries, and the Board for being leaders on the right side of history in passing this emergency standard.”