California Announces Rules for June 15 Reopening; Cal/OSHA Reconsiders Employer Requirements

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Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

On June 9, 2021, the California Department of Public Health announced a new face coverings guidance that will go into effect statewide on June 15, 2021. In addition, Governor Newsom’s office announced that on June 15, 2021, California would be fully reopen with no capacity limits or distancing required by the state. The county-by-county color tier system will also be eliminated. However, individual county health departments may continue to impose restrictions under local public health orders.

Under the State’s new guidance, fully vaccinated persons are not required to wear masks indoors or outdoors except in limited settings. The limited settings in which masks will be required for vaccinated people include traveling on public transit, indoors in K-12 schools or other youth settings, in healthcare settings, and in state and local correctional facilities and detention centers.

However, unvaccinated individuals are still required to wear masks in public indoor settings and in outdoor settings without social distancing.

In settings where masks are required only for unvaccinated individuals, businesses, venue operators or hosts may choose to:

  • Provide information to all patrons, guests and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry;
  • Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask; or
  • Require all patrons to wear masks.

Employers remain subject to Cal/OSHA rules, which were recently modified, subject to confirmation by the Office of Administrative Law. The proposed Cal/OSHA rules as written were not consistent with the state and CDPH rules, and required both masks and social distancing for most businesses through July 31. The contradictory nature of the Cal/OSHA proposal prompted a coalition of business groups to pressure Governor Newsom for an order that would conform the Cal/OSHA rules to the state and CDPH rules, which are also consistent with the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards. Despite support from labor representatives for more strict mask requirements, Cal/OSHA relented and on Wednesday night voted to rescind the proposal. Cal/OSHA further announced it would be presenting a new proposal on June 17 which could go into effect as early as June 28, subject to review by the Office of Administrative Law. This means that the prior Cal/OSHA rules which require masks and social distancing will remain in effect until any new rules become effective. 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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