Update-Possible Return of Workplace Mask Requirements

Earlier today, our firm distributed an email regarding the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that vaccinated individuals resume wearing masks indoors.  In the email, we provided that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) was evaluating the CDC’s new guidance and likely to issue similar new guidance of its own.

This afternoon, the CDPH did in fact update its guidance regarding masks for vaccinated individuals.

The CDPH now recommends that even fully vaccinated individuals in California wear masks while indoors in public settings.  This is consistent with the new CDC guidance.  One notable difference is that the CDPH recommendation applies to the entire state; you may recall from our earlier email that the CDC recommendation applies only to counties with substantial or high COVID transmission rates.

It is important to note that at this point in time, this is a recommendation and not a requirementHowever, as noted in our prior email, it is a requirement in Los Angeles County, which has imposed its own stricter rule.

It is possible that Cal/OSHA will update its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which provides rules for COVID safety in the workplace, to reflect the new CDPH guidance.  However, for now, vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks at work.  Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks indoors at work, subject to limited exceptions.

If you would like to require your employees to wear masks at work, regardless of vaccination status, you are permitted to do so.  Broadly speaking, you may implement safety measures that are more strict than the state requirements.  You may not implement safety measures that are less strict that the state requirements.

You can read the full text of the CDPH guidance here.

As always, we will continue to provide updates as the situation develops.  If you have questions about any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.