California Relaxes Quarantine Requirements for Fully Vaccinated Persons
Topics: OSHA Issues
On May 3, 2021, the California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) updated its guidance concerning face coverings and quarantine requirements for “fully vaccinated” people outside of the workplace. (See definition of “fully vaccinated” on the CDPH release).
Fully vaccinated people can now:
Spend time with other fully vaccinated people, including indoors, without wearing masks or physical distancing (outside a workplace setting; Cal/OSHA still requires the use of face masks in workplace settings).
- Spend time with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
- Refrain from wearing face coverings outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.
- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
- Following a known exposure at work, fully vaccinated workers do not need to quarantine if asymptomatic.
- In the workplace, employers subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) must ensure that employees are following the current ETS face covering and testing requirements.
Taking its cue, Cal/OSHA on May 5, 2021, updated its FAQs to confirm that fully vaccinated individuals who have had a COVID-19 exposure do not need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. Accordingly, “exclusion pay” – which is required for those excluded from the workplace due to a COVID-19 exposure – is no longer required for these employees.
It should be noted that fully vaccinated employees still must be excluded if they (1) are COVID-19 cases (i.e., tested positive for COVID-19), or (2) have had a COVID-19 exposure and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.
Importantly, Cal/OSHA has not changed its requirement concerning the wearing of face masks, regardless of vaccination status. Cal/OSHA still requires that employees wear masks in the workplace when indoors, and when outdoors and less than 6 feet away from others. The only exceptions remain when an employee is: alone in a room, eating or drinking, using a respirator or other respiratory protection, hearing impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person; performing specific work tasks that cannot be performed with a face covering or cannot use a face-covering due to a medical or mental condition.
The above is welcome news in the loosening of restrictions regarding quarantine and associated exclusion pay requirements for fully vaccinated employees. Although face masks are still required in the workplace, we remain hopeful that with more evidence of reduced transmissibility among those fully vaccinated, that those restrictions will in turn, be relaxed.
If you have questions regarding complying with the State of California and Cal/OSHA’s guidance in the workplace, feel free to contact your CDF attorney or the author of this blog, Partner and Chair of CDF's Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA) Practice Group, Thomas Song.