The first state to implement workplace health and safety standards for COVID-19 is poised to roll back those requirements. Virginia’s Permanent COVID-19 Employee Health and Safety Requirements (the “Permanent Standard”) established requirements for employers to control, prevent, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  However, with the Omicron wave receding, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin says the Permanent Standard presents “a significant burden on businesses” and should be reconsidered.

Pursuant to Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order issued on January 15, 2022, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board (the “Board”) convened on February 16, 2022, to determine whether the Permanent Standard is still necessary.  Adopting the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s (“DOLI”) recommendation, the Board agreed that there is no continued need for the Permanent Standard because the virus, “based on emerging scientific and medical evidence, . . . no longer constitute[s] a grave danger to employees in the workplace.”

The Board’s decision opens the door for a 30-day Notice and Comment period on revoking the Permanent Standard.  The Board must then hold a public hearing before a final vote on revocation.

If the Permanent Standard is repealed, which seems likely, employers would no longer have to require masking indoors, enforce social distancing, maintain ventilation systems, report COVID-19 cases to the Virginia Department of Health, or provide COVID-19 training to employees, among other current requirements.  In the meantime, employers should maintain their existing COVID-19 safety measures, as required under the Permanent Standard.

Nonetheless, recently updated Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) guidance may impact the Permanent Standard to the extent it is not repealed.  On February 25, 2022, the CDC released new guidance to recommend steps to protect against COVID-19 depending on the risk of the virus in the area. The level of risk is measured on statistics such as hospital bed capacity, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. The guidance is being considered by Virginia’s DOLI and the Department of Health, which will issue an FAQ addressing how it may impact enforcement of the Permanent Standard.

We will continue to monitor developments and provide an update to this post should the Board revoke the Permanent Standard.

*Kamil Gajda, Law Clerk – Admission Pending (not admitted to the practice of law) in the firm’s New York office, contributed to the preparation of this post.

Back to Workforce Bulletin Blog

Search This Blog

Blog Editors


Related Services



Jump to Page


Sign up to receive an email notification when new Workforce Bulletin posts are published:

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.