COVID-19 Update: Revised Exclusion Timeline and Mask Guidance

March 9, 2023 8:02 am

On March 3, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced new COVID-19 guidelines that will go into effect on Monday, March 13, 2023. These new guidelines will replace current guidelines.

Sierra HR Partners has developed an updated document summarizing the new information below. Please e-mail us to request a PDF copy.

A New Exclusion Approach

If an employee reports testing positive for COVID-19, they must be directed to stay home. Under the previous guidance, they could return to work five days after the start of their symptoms if they tested negative at that point. Without a negative test, they’d be excluded from work until after Day 10. Under the new guidance, individuals may return after Day 5 simply if they feel well. Like before, it’s still critical that symptoms have improved and that the employee has been fever-free for at least 24 hours, but a negative test will no longer be required.

Mask Guidance

Under previous guidance, those who returned to work after 5 days were still required to wear a mask through Day 10. Under new guidance, those who return after 5 days may remove their masks sooner, if two sequential negative tests are taken at least a day apart. The employee may stop wearing a mask after Day 10 without a negative test.

COVID Exposure 

The CDPH recommendations for people with symptoms or who were exposed to a COVID-19 case are unchanged. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, the CDPH recommends that you isolate and test as soon as possible. If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to isolate, but the CDPH recommends that you test 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.

These changes to our COIVD response are in addition to other recent changes, including to the definition of “close contact” and the removal of “exclusion pay” related to workplace COVID exposures. You can read about those changes in our COVID-19 Update Headliner from early February.

What About Healthcare?

The guidelines discussed above are for non-healthcare settings. The CDPH continues to maintain separate guidance for healthcare facilities.

That said, the end of the state of emergency in California on February 28 has allowed guidance for healthcare and other high-risk settings to change. Under this new guidanceeffective April 3, masks are no longer required in healthcare and high-risk settings. The CDPH adds, “Health care facilities and other high-risk setting operators should develop and implement their own facility-specific plans based on their community, patient population, and other facility considerations incorporating CDPH and CDC recommendations​” (emphasis added). Additionally, effective April 3, vaccines are no longer required for healthcare workers.

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