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San Francisco Issues Revised Rules on Vaccination and Masking Requirements
Feb 2, 2022

San Francisco Issues Revised Rules on Vaccination and Masking Requirements

Topics: COVID-19

In keeping pace with state and federal agencies that are updating public health guidance around COVID-19, San Francisco once again revised its Public Health Order on January 26, 2022 to address vaccination and masking requirements for various businesses that operate in San Francisco, many of which went into effect February 1, 2022.  While the California Department of Public Health continues to order most Californians to wear masks in indoor public places, through February 15, 2022, San Francisco authorities seem to believe that because of its previous restrictions, it can create the exceptions identified below.

San Franciscans who work in indoor office settings do not need to wear a well-fitted mask if all of the below conditions are present: 

  1. They are up-to-date on their vaccinations (which means the person must have also received a booster if booster-eligible);
  2. Visitors show proof of up-to-date vaccination or wear a well-fitted mask;
  3. Unvaccinated individuals who are granted exemptions for religious or medical reasons are tested before entry, provided that these individuals are not required to be tested more than twice a week and wear a well-fitted mask while in the office;
  4. The business has implemented an appropriate ventilation protocol as specified by the Public Health Order; and
  5. The business is not experiencing a COVID outbreak.

Operators of indoor Mega Events (now defined as those attended by 500 or more people) can now permit attendance based on proof of up-to-date vaccination or a negative COVID test.  The negative COVID test must be administered no more than one day prior to the event if it is an antigen test, or two days prior for a PCR test. Self-administered antigen tests are not accepted unless it is verified by a third party.

Businesses such as gyms, fitness centers, restaurants, and bars previously were required to have staff and patrons show proof of vaccination.  They are now permitted, but not required, to provide limited exemptions based on religious or medical reasons.  However, individuals granted exemptions must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entry into the business, although they cannot be required to test more than twice a week, so long as the tests are at least three days apart.  Moreover, these individuals must wear a well-fitted mask (currently recommended to mean a N95, KN95, KF94, or other similar non-vented respirator, although a cloth mask over a surgical mask also suffices).  Additionally, patrons and personnel of gyms, fitness centers, and similar establishments can remove their masks while indoors if they are up-to-date on their vaccination status (with similar exceptions and requirements for masking as those pertaining to office settings), so long as the operator of the facility controls access to their facility to ensure vaccination requirements (or testing for exemptions with masking) are followed.

The Public Health Order contains many other provisions, including but not limited to those governing workers in high-risk settings, school settings, and museums and galleries.  Please contact your favorite CDF attorney for advice regarding how the new rules affect your business.

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For over 25 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor in Chief

Sacramento Office Managing Partner and Chair of CDF’s Traditional Labor Law Practice Group. Mark has been practicing labor and employment law in California for thirty years. His practice has a special emphasis on the representation of California employers in union-management relations and handling federal and state court litigation and administrative matters triggered by all types of employment-related disputes. He is also adept at providing creative and practical legal advice to help minimize the risks inherent in employing workers in California. He recently named “Sacramento Lawyer of the Year” in Employment Law-Management for 2021 by Best Lawyers®.
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