California Lowers Masking Requirements Effective February 15, 2022
On February 15, 2022, the Department of Public Health (CDPH) Order requiring masking of almost all Californians in most indoor public spaces will expire. Last week, CDPH issued new guidance that goes into effect on February 16, 2022.
However, this change is not universal as employers must continue to comply with the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and any local health department orders. For example, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health orders will require continued indoor masking requirements.
CDPH continues to require masking in certain indoor settings for all persons, regardless of vaccine status for:
- Public transit
- School and childcare settings (indoors)
- Homeless shelters and emergency shelters
- Healthcare settings
- State and local correctional facilities
- Long-term care settings and adult and senior care facilities
In addition, CDPH requires unvaccinated individuals to mask in all indoor public settings and businesses (examples: retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, state and local government offices serving the public) with few exceptions:
- Children under two years of age,
- Persons who require a medical accommodation; and
- Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
It appears that Cal/OSHA ETS will, therefore, allow most employers to lift current masking requirements for fully vaccinated employees that employers instituted based on the CDPH’s prior orders. However, employers may continue to require masks and employees may not be disciplined if they wish to wear a mask, unless wearing a mask creates a safety hazard. Also, employers should continue to provide masks to employees.
Before eliminating masking requirements for fully vaccinated employees from the workplace, employers should consult with their favorite CDF lawyer to ensure that their vaccination recordkeeping will allow for a change and evaluate whether local health department orders will permit the employer to revise current policies.