RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s temporary workplace safety regulations for COVID-19 prevention were made permanent Wednesday, requiring employers to enforce rules such as mandating masks for all public-facing employees and providing adequate sanitation throughout the pandemic.

Last week, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board voted to extend COVID-19 workplace standards that align closely with those adopted in July. Gov. Northam approved to make those temporary rules, the first such standards in the nation, permanent before they expired at the end of the month.

“While the end of this pandemic is finally in sight, the virus is still spreading, including several highly contagious variants, and now is not the time to let up on preventative measures,” Northam said in a statement.

The rules vary depending on how each job poses a risk of exposure to the virus. However, there will be a few standards that will be required of all employers. 

Social distancing measures, face coverings for employees who must interact with customers or when distancing is not possible, and access to hand washing or hand sanitizer will be mandatory under the new rules. High-contact surfaces must also be cleaned regularly.

“I am grateful to the many businesses and organizations who have been with us throughout this process and continue to take the necessary steps to operate safely,” Northam continued. “These standards will reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and protect the health and safety of Virginia workers, consumers, and communities as we move our Commonwealth forward together.”

The Safety and Health Codes Board will reconvene within two weeks of the end of Northam’s state of emergency to determine if the permanent standards are still needed.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.