COVID-19 Update: California Ends Its Indoor Mask Mandate – What Do We Do Now?

February 14, 2022 2:36 pm

California’s indoor mask mandate, imposed on December 13, 2021 in response to surging cases of the Omicron variant, will officially expire tomorrow, February 15, 2022. Governor Newsom’s office cited falling case numbers as the basis for ending the requirement for face coverings indoors. In Fresno County, positive case rates have decreased significantly in the past two weeks.

What Does This Mean for California Employers?

Beginning February 16, most employers in California can once again refer to the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard for rules on face coverings. It’s been a little while since we last reviewed these regulations, which were revised on January 14, 2022. Below is a brief summary:

  • Fully vaccinated employees are not required to wear masks indoors, unless the company is experiencing a COVID outbreak. In non-healthcare settings, a booster dose is not required to be considered fully vaccinated.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask when working indoors or in a vehicle. The employee may remove the mask if alone in a room or vehicle, or when eating or drinking at least six feet away from others. Accommodations may be made for medical or mental health conditions that prevent the employee from wearing a face covering.
  • Employers must provide face coverings to unvaccinated employees, and ensure the masks are clean and undamaged. Masks must be provided to all employees when required by an order from the California Dept. of Public Health.
  • “Face covering” is defined by Cal/OSHA as, “a surgical mask, a medical procedure mask, a respirator… or a tightly woven fabric…of at least two layers (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source.)”

Certain counties, such as Los Angeles and Santa Clara, will maintain their local masking requirements. Employers should check with local Public Health Departments or contact Sierra HR Partners for specific guidance.

Masks will still be required in specified work environments including healthcare settings, senior care facilities, and K-12 schools.

As always, Sierra HR Partners is here to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 precautions and paid leave benefits. Please contact one of our Consultants with any questions you have.

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