On June 17th the Cal/OSHA Standards Board passed amended COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, which were intended to bring consistency between the California Department of Public Health mask guidance and Cal-OSHA’s workplace requirements.
However, since the passage of the amendments, several counties, including Los Angeles County, have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases. In response, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department (LADPH) issued a revised order that went into effect on July 17, 2021. This followed a “strong recommendation” that all individuals wear masks indoors that was issued by the LADPH in late June.
Under the new order, everyone must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status in the following situations:
- In all public settings, venues, gatherings, and businesses in Los Angeles County
- On planes, trains, buses, ferries, taxis and ride-shares, and all other forms of public transport
- In transportation hubs like airports, bus terminals, train stations, marinas, seaports and other ports, subway stations, or any other area that provides transportation
- Healthcare settings, including long-term care facilities.
- State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
- Shelters and cooling centers
- Indoor at any youth-serving facility (such as K-12 schools, childcare, day camps, etc.)
- In any outdoor location where it is the policy of the business or venue.
Individuals, businesses, venue operators or a host of public indoor settings must:
- Require all patrons to wear masks for all indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination status; and,
- Post clearly visible and easy to read signage, with or without having an employee present, at all entry points for indoor and outdoor settings to communicate the masking requirements to patrons.
Although Cal-OSHA allows fully vaccinated employees to forgo face coverings in the workplace upon providing proof, or attesting, that they are fully vaccinated, Cal-OSHA allows local health jurisdictions to require more protective mandates. Accordingly, the LA County order overrides the more permissible Cal-OSHA Temporary Standards.
The LA County order allows certain employees in workplaces to be exempt from wearing a mask when performing specific tasks that cannot feasibly be performed wearing a mask. These types of exceptions are limited to the period of time in which such tasks are actually being performed. Moreover, workers who cannot feasibly wear a mask while performing their work must be tested for COVID-19 at least twice per week, unless the employer is provided proof of the employee’s full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of recovery from laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days.
The County has also issued revised guidance regarding mask requirements available on their website.
The Bay Area could soon have renewed masks mandates, as the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and the City of Berkley have issued a joint statement strongly recommending masking for everyone indoors.