The Capitol's attending physician sent coronavirus recommendations to senators and staffers on Friday outlining best practices as the Senate prepares to return on Monday amid the pandemic.
The six-page list of guidelines from Brian Monahan, the attending Capitol physician, recommends but does not require the use of face masks within the Capitol complex. The Architect of the Capitol previously announced that it was requiring its employees to wear face coverings, but that did not apply to senators, their staff, Capitol police or reporters.
"Use of a face covering is voluntary unless required by specific Agency policy, and should be promoted at all times. Use of a face covering while in the office has the additional advantage of serving as a source control to minimize virus in the workplace environment and contributes to the cleaning process efficiency," Monahan wrote in the guidance, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill.
He added that "individuals retain the option of not using a face cover if they can maintain the 6-foot separation guidelines." But he noted that the Capitol Police "will not take enforcement actions regarding face coverings."
Monahan is requiring all employees to check their temperatures at home and complete an 11 question self-assessment each day before coming to the Capitol complex. They will have to report their results to a designated individual in the office.
"Participation in a health monitoring program is required for all Congressional employees unless impacted by a collective bargaining agreement or in those instances where employment is exclusively by telework or at an isolated/solitary occupancy duty station," he wrote.
Once in the Capitol complex, Monahan is recommending senators and their staff minimize the number of individuals in their offices, avoiding gatherings and modifying office layouts when possible to try to allow for at least six feet of distance.
That includes allowing staff to telework, which many offices have been doing since late March.
"These guidelines are based on current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention best practices to minimize risk of coronavirus transmission in the workplace through use of social distancing measures and daily screening of employee health prior to reporting for duty," Monahan wrote.