Employees Told To Wear Face Masks On Zoom Calls, Even When Home Alone
An employer in Wisconsin has told their employees to wear masks while on Zoom calls even if they’re home alone.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sent an email to its employees to remind them to wear masks while indoors following Governor Tony Evers’ mask order.
The state’s mask mandate that came into play August 1 stated that people must wear a mask when indoors or in an enclosed space when other people are present in the room or space. An example it used was to wear one while going food shopping or when in a taxi.
The mandate specifically said that you do not need to wear a mask while in a private residency, and defined an enclosed space as ‘a confined space that is open to the public where individuals congregate’. Despite this, Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole said employees had to wear one while working from home, something many people have called ridiculous.
In an email sent July 31, Cole reportedly wrote:
Also, wear your mask, even if you are home, to participate in a virtual meeting that involves being seen — such as on Zoom or another video-conferencing platform — by non-DNR staff. Set the safety example which shows you as a DNR public service employee care about the safety and health of others.
While Wisconsin has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, wearing a mask in your own home when by yourself arguably isn’t going to make any difference.
Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that masks only need to be worn at home in specific circumstances. For example, if a household member had the virus. Safdar added, ‘Beyond that, there is not a reason to routinely wear a mask in your home if that risk isn’t there.’
Safdar also said that while wearing a mask may show support for health and safety guidelines, wearing one during Zoom calls when you’re home alone ‘doesn’t seem to be a good reason to wear it.’
Following backlash, DNR has defended its decision to ask employees to wear masks when at home during a Zoom call. A spokesperson for the company said they wanted to create ‘a very visual reminder to all that wearing a mask in a public setting helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.’
While wearing a mask is definitely important, and there are of course cases when people could have to wear one at home – if they live with a vulnerable relative, for example – having to wear one while home alone is probably a bit extreme.
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CreditsMilwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel