Detroit Three autoworkers in lower-risk COVID-19 counties can remove masks

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

The Detroit Three autoworkers will make mask wearing optional regardless of vaccination status if the facilities where they work are not in counties at high risk for COVID-19, the United Auto Workers and the automakers said late Thursday.

The COVID-19 Joint Task Force, consisting of the UAW, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV, have adopted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention new guidance and created the masks-optional policy for employees at U.S. facilities.

Each automaker is expected to communicate when the changes go into effect at specific locations. 

Facilities in areas that the CDC has deemed high risk will continue to require masking and social distancing. A location's COVID-19 county risk level can be reviewed on the online CDC tracking tool.

Masks still will be made available to employees. 

Employees have been required to mask up since May 2020, when the automakers came back from an eight-week pandemic-induced shutdown. The automakers attempted last summer to make masks optional for vaccinated workers but the fast-spreading delta variant ended that quickly.

"In making this decision, the Task Force reviewed reports of medical experts and CDC guidelines." the group said in a press release sent out by the UAW. "The companies will continue to adhere to state and local masking requirements where applicable."

The UAW and Detroit automakers said in the release they continue to "encourage" vaccination against COVID-19.