Santa Clara County Updates Guidelines for Reopening Employers Effective June 21, 2021
In May 2021, Santa Clara County implemented some unique requirements on employers in the County with respect to gathering information on the vaccination status of employees. On June 21, 2021, the Health Officer of the County of Santa Clara issued Santa Clara County’s June 21, 2021 Health Order phasing out its May 18, 2021 Health Order for all businesses and employers which have completed both an initial round of employee vaccination ascertainment and a subsequent round of employee vaccination verification 14 days after the initial ascertainment for all employees who were unvaccinated during the initial round pursuant to Section 9(c) of the May 18, 2021 Health Order.
For employers that have not yet completed two rounds of vaccination ascertainment, Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9(c), and 10 of the May 18, 2021 Health Order remain in full force and effect until those employers have completed two rounds of vaccination verification of their personnel. However, it is important to note that the June 21, 2021 Health Order rescinds the requirement of the May 18, 2021 Health Order that employers report any positive COVID-19 case in the workplace to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department regardless of whether the employer has completed two rounds of employee vaccination ascertainment.
Under Section 9(c) of the May 18, 2021 Health Order, employers must ascertain the vaccination status of all employees and, until a person’s vaccination status is ascertained, they must be treated as not fully vaccinated. Under that Order, employers were required to complete their initial ascertainment of the vaccination status of all personnel within 14 days of May 18, 2021 and were then required to obtain updated vaccination status for all personnel who were not fully vaccinated every 14 days thereafter. In addition, employers were and are still required to keep records demonstrating that the business has completed the required ascertainments. For employers that have not yet completed the initial two rounds of vaccination ascertainment, they must do so as soon as possible as failure to do so is a misdemeanor pursuant to Section 10 of the May 18, 2021 Health Order.
For those employers that have already completed the two rounds of vaccination verification, the June 21, 2021 Health Order requires that employers simply comply with the orders of the California State Health Officer, any mandatory guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health, any mandatory orders of the Governor or Cal/OSHA, or any other mandatory provision of State law. In addition, the June 21, 2021 Health Order recommends that employers do the following:
- Strongly encourage employees to get vaccinated and regularly request updated vaccination status information from those employees who are not fully vaccinated (although employers are no longer required to request vaccination information every two weeks if they have completed the initial two rounds of vaccination ascertainment);
- Consider moving operations outside if possible;
- Prohibit employees who are not fully vaccinated from engaging in work-related travel to places with elevated rates of COVID-19;
- Require employees who are not fully vaccinated to obtain regular testing for COVID-19 consistent with current local, state, and federal recommendations; and
- Encourage any employee, vaccinated or unvaccinated, who has COVID-19 symptoms to be tested via a PCR test immediately.
Employers with business operations in Santa Clara County must remain vigilant in this developing landscape to ensure they are in compliance with the local county requirements, as well as any applicable state and federal regulations that may alter or add to their obligations under this new Health Order.