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Community Associations Pivot as CDC Eases Guidelines for Wearing Masks Outdoors

On April 27, 2021, more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled new guidelines reducing requirements for outdoor mask-wearing, specifically for people who have been fully vaccinated.

For most of the past year, the CDC had been advising Americans to wear masks outdoors if they are within six feet of one another.  The shift is due to the fact that more than half of U.S. adults — or about 140 million people — have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated.

For the estimated 60 percent of Floridians who live in a community association including a condominium, homeowner’s association or co-op, this welcome change means community associations may relax mandated mask-wearing for residents and guests while in outdoor public spaces such as community pools, tennis courts or parking lots.

“We strongly encourage all associations to follow all CDC guidelines and recommendations,” said Carolina Sznajderman Sheir, Esq. a partner at Eisinger Law. “With this in mind, however, it will be very difficult for an association to determine whether an individual is fully vaccinated, nor is an association necessarily in a position to monitor who is or is not vaccinated.”

A prudent option, Sznajderman Sheir said, would be for community associations to continue to limit large gatherings in all common elements or areas for the time being.

“What is most important is that community association adopt reasonable policies, that provide flexibility for modified CDC guidelines and changing circumstances, while continuing to fairly and uniformly enforce rules on residents.

According to the CDC, whether Americans are fully vaccinated or not, people do not have to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike or run alone or with members of their household. They can also go maskless in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people.

Despite the CDC’s recent announcement, it is important to note there are still mandates for indoor mask wearing. Community associations should continue to follow and enforce these regulations to protect the health of residents and shield the associations from liability, related to the following:

  • Capacity requirements in community rooms, fitness center and gyms in community associations are still limited to 50% of maximum capacity and must be limited to residents, family and guests.
  • Social distancing requirements must be adhered to, but do not apply to members of the same household or family.  Equipment and tables must be arranged to ensure six feet of distance.
  • No multi-player games are permitted between persons who are not of the same household, or unless everyone is wearing facial coverings.
  • Hot tubs may operate; Steam room, sauna and shower facilities must remain closed, except if required for pre-swim shower.
  • Sanitation requirements include that common facilities must be thoroughly deep cleaned, disinfected and sanitized daily.  The association must provide disinfecting wipes and every person is required to wipe down any equipment or area after use.  Hand sanitizer must be made available.

Carolina Sznajderman Sheir is a partner at Eisinger Law and is an AV-rated attorney. Her practice focuses on real estate law, community association law, commercial litigation and developer representation.  She can be reached at csheir@eisingerlaw.com or 954-894-8000 ext. 238.

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Eisinger Law is a full-service Florida law firm focusing on community association law, real estate law, developer representation, commercial litigation, corporate law, insurance law and estate planning. For more info visit eisingerlaw.com