On January 5, 2022, Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health modified its ongoing COVID-19 health order due to drastic increases in cases and resultant hospitalizations related to the Omicron and Delta variants. Among these modifications is an important new requirement which pertains to the wearing of masks by employees.
Specifically, employers in Los Angeles County must now provide their employees who work indoors and in close contact with other workers or the public with a well-fitting medical-grade mask, surgical mask or higher-level respirator, such as an N95 filtering facepiece or KN95. These masks must be worn by employees at all times while indoors at the worksite or facility. “Close contact” is defined as being within six feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or greater in any 24-hour period within or overlapping with the “high-risk exposure period.” Although the requirement became effective on January 6, 2022, Los Angeles County employers have a grace period – to January 17, 2022 – to come into compliance with this new mandate.
Based on the modified health order, employers should therefore determine whether their employees work within 6 feet of other employees or the general public for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. If so, these employees would need to be provided with these higher-grade masks. This mandate does not apply to employers located in the cities of Pasadena, Long Beach and Vernon. However, employers in every city should continue to monitor and comply with local COVID-19 health orders and related local requirements.