The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), met Thursday for a highly anticipated update to rules for masks and distancing in the workplace.

The agency, which regulates workplace safety, voted Thursday on a plan that would allow vaccinated workers to skip wearing a mask. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order allowing the new rules to take effect immediately, eliminating the usual 10-day administrative law review.

The new rules generally state:

  • Employers may allow vaccinated employees to work without face coverings indoors, but they must document workers’ vaccination status. That documentation process allows workers to either show written proof of vaccination, such as a CDC vaccine card, or to “self-attest” that they are vaccinated without providing documentation.
  • Workers can decline to state if they are vaccinated or not. However, they will be treated as if they are unvaccinated.
    Unvaccinated workers must wear masks indoors, unless alone in a room or vehicle. Employers must make approved respirators, such as an N95 mask, available for unvaccinated workers if they request them.
  • No face coverings are required outdoors unless there is an outbreak.
    If there is a COVID outbreak, masks will be mandated for all workers indoors, and outdoors if six-foot physical distancing can’t be maintained.
  • No physical distancing or barriers between workers are required, regardless of employees’ vaccination status, although employers can re-evaluate the need if an outbreak occurs. Distancing and barriers will be mandated if a “major outbreak” of 20 or more cases occurs.
  • Fully vaccinated workers with no COVID symptoms do not need to be tested or quarantined after they are exposed to the virus.
  • Employees cannot face retaliation for wearing a mask, even if they are not required to do so.

California’s mask-wearing guidance for the general public starting Tuesday will align largely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. The guidance will allow fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most situations. But they will still be required in certain settings:

  • On public transit, including airplanes, ships, trains, buses, taxis and ride-hailing vehicles, and in transportation hubs such as airports, but terminals, train stations, seaports, marinas and subway stations;
  • Indoors at K-12 schools, child-care facilities and other youth settings;
  • Health-care settings, including long-term care facilities;
  • At state and local correctional facilities and detention centers; and
  • At homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers.

Masks will be required for unvaccinated people in indoor public settings and businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, theaters, movie theaters, family entertainment centers and government offices serving the public.

Business and event-venue operators can choose how to enforce those rules.

  • Businesses and venues can publicly post rules regarding mask-wearing and allow customers and visitors to “self-attest” that they are vaccinated, meaning if someone enters the business without a mask they are attesting to being vaccinated;
  • They can “implement a vaccine-verification system to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask”
  • They can simply require all patrons to wear a mask.

Many employers are trying to decide if they should still require masks, as a point of reference, approximately 70% of employers are following the guidance.

Our team is committed to keeping you informed and being a resource for you. If you have any questions regarding this email or any other compliance matter, please feel free to reach out to us.

Please stay safe, healthy and positive!
Progressive Benefit Group