California’s New Mask Mandate For All Indoor Public Spaces
In a press conference on Tuesday, December 13, 2021, California’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Mark Ghaly, announced a statewide mask mandate between December 15, 2021 and January 15, 2022. Shortly after this announcement, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) published further guidance.
Specific direction is limited; the guidance simply says, “Masks are required for all individuals in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status from December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022 (surgical masks or higher-level respirators are recommended).”
The CDPH maintains a page for mask-related questions and answers, but this page has not been updated since November 30, 2021.
The CDPH also reminds workplaces that they are subject to Cal/OSHA regulations, including the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) which was effective in June 2021. If you’ve been following Sierra HR Partners’ HR Headliners and other breaking news releases, and if you’ve implemented a compliant COVID-19 Prevention Program, this brief mask mandate is the only necessary change. The requirement is set to expire January 15, 2022, but may be extended.
As reported by The Hill, “It’s unclear whether the mandate will be enforced, and Ghaly said during a briefing that he expects some places to have stronger enforcement than others.” Historically, some California municipalities have refused to enforce past mandates, and we do not have indication of possible penalties for failing to implement this latest requirement. Ghaly acknowledged that people are growing weary of ever-changing rules, but emphasized the effort to minimize COVID cases as much as possible. “We know that there’s going to be people who don’t necessarily agree with this, who are tired, who aren’t going to mask. We hope that those are few and far between, that most people see the purpose of doing this over the next month as something to protect them and their communities during a very tough time.”