The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the traditional workplace in California and across the country. With the onset of the highly contagious Omicron variants and more than eight million COVID-19 cases and 81,000 deaths in California alone, the state stepped in to ensure the safety of workers and patrons in California businesses. But California’s rules about mask mandates and COVID-19 paid sick leave are changing once again. As our “new normal” continues to adjust, what does this mean for the workplace?
California Mask Mandates for Businesses
Since January 5, 2022, the California Department of Health has required everyone to wear masks in all indoor public settings. However, that rule will expire on February 15, 2022. As of February 16, employers should follow the California/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/ETS.htmlRule. Under the ETS, individuals should still wear masks in certain locations, including while in:
- Healthcare facilities;
- K-12 schools;
- Adult and senior facilities;
- Long-term care facilities;
- State prisons and local jails;
- Homeless and emergency shelters; and
- Public transportation.
What Should Employers Do?
Unvaccinated individuals must still wear masks in all public locations and businesses. To ensure compliance with the ETS, employers can:
- Provide masks for all unvaccinated employees;
- Require all visitors wear masks;
- Use vaccine verification to determine whether patrons and employees should wear masks; or
- Inform everyone of vaccine requirements and allow people to self-attest their status.
Don’t forget that some jurisdictions, including Los Angeles County, will still have mask mandates for everyone in indoor public locations and businesses.