Mask mandates

On Tuesday, the United Auto Workers union and the Big Three carmakers announced that mandatory mask mandates would be reinstated for all corporate locations including factories, offices, and warehouses. The mask policy comes into effect today and applies to all employees regardless of vaccination status.

A COVID-19 Task Force created among the UAW, Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors issued a statement Tuesday, saying, “While we know that masks can be uncomfortable, the spread of the Delta variant and recent data outlining the alarmingly high rate of transmission among those unvaccinated is a serious health threat.”

The reintroduction of mask mandates may be an unpopular move but comes as a response to updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Just last week, the CDC changed their recommendations to include strong recommendations that anyone in a county with ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ COVID-19 transmission should wear a mask indoors. That includes those both vaccinated and unvaccinated. Around 80% of counties across the country fall within the transmission rates covered by the CDC.

The Delta variant has been surging across the nation, and while top doctors like Dr. Anthony Fauci say that widespread lockdowns won’t be implemented, responses to surges and hotspots will need to be addressed.

Big Three carmakers are far from the only major companies to reinstate mask mandates as Delta cases soar. At least one unnamed import carmaker in the US plans to mandate mask usage. In addition, Home Depot, Kroger, Target, and Walmart are all requiring their staff members to wear masks at work and are strongly encouraging their customers to wear a face-covering while shopping.

Vaccine uptake slowed in recent weeks

President Biden’s vaccination target for July 4th has finally been met, nearly a month late. From more than 3 million doses administered daily in April to around 650,000 per day at the start of August, the US has fallen behind vaccination rates for first and second doses to countries like Canada – a nation that relies on other countries like the US for their vaccine supply.

The COVID-19 Task Force statement urges members from all of the companies to get vaccinated. “We know that the best way to fight this virus is by getting vaccinated. The Task Force is strongly encouraging all members, coworkers, and their families to roll up their sleeves so we can move more quickly on once again relaxing mask protocols. The more our members, coworkers, and their families are vaccinated, the quicker we can vanquish this deadly pandemic.”

Proactive response is key by auto retailers

Currently, nine states have indoor mask mandates in place: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Washington. However, most of those states have exemptions for fully vaccinated individuals, but the updated CDC guidelines could change that.

Mask usage and COVID-19 protocols divide people groups from workplaces and sports organizations to places of worship, and dealerships are no exception. Amid less than clear guidelines federally and with state mandates widely varying, it becomes even more tricky to address COVID-19 protocols in the dealership, whether staff and customers are vaccinated or not.

Dealerships should strive to abide by all legal requirements that apply, of course. If your store is sticking strictly by mandatory restrictions or if you’re going further – implementing mandatory masks where the governing bodies do not – the key is to be proactive in communicating with your staff and your customer base. Continue to issue social media posts and email your customers about how your dealership is addressing COVID in light of the Delta variant to mitigate problems within the dealership.

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