Morgan Lewis

Santa Clara County, California issued a health officer order on June 21, 2021, to phase out its May 18 health officer order, which required businesses to ascertain the vaccination status of all personnel working in the county and to follow up every two weeks with those who had not yet indicated they were fully vaccinated. The county also lifted its other COVID-19-related requirements for businesses, replacing them with recommendations that businesses are encouraged to follow.

Beginning June 21, 2021, businesses that have performed two “rounds” of ascertainment in compliance with the May 18 order, and maintain “appropriate records” that they have done so, are no longer required to follow up every two weeks with personnel who are not fully vaccinated. Businesses in Santa Clara County that have not completed two rounds must continue complying with the May 18 order’s vaccination ascertainment requirements until they have completed two rounds. Employers should also note that at the state level, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA’s) readopted” Emergency Temporary Standards that took effect June 17 require employers to document employees’ vaccination status before relaxing face covering and quarantine requirements for employees in California.

Also effective June 21, 2021, Santa Clara County lifted its requirements regarding mandatory reporting of personnel who contracted COVID-19, its Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings, and its Mandatory Directive on Unvaccinated Personnel. As a result, once an employer completes its two documented rounds of vaccination ascertainment, it can focus on complying with any applicable statewide requirements, such as the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards. The county credited declining cases, widespread community vaccination, and the updated Cal/OSHA workplace standards as its reasons for lifting restrictions.

Santa Clara County now recommends, but does not require, that businesses do the following:

  • Strongly encourage all personnel to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible and request updated vaccination status information from those who are not already fully vaccinated.
  • Consider moving operations and activities outdoors, especially operations and activities involving patrons who are unlikely to be vaccinated.
  • Prohibit personnel who are not fully vaccinated from engaging in any work-related travel to places with elevated rates of COVID-19, with widespread circulation of variants of concern, or where community vaccination rates are below the Bay Area’s average.
  • Require personnel who are not fully vaccinated to obtain regular testing for COVID-19, and any person experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should be tested immediately via a PCR test, regardless of vaccination status.

CONCLUSION

With Santa Clara County’s rescission of its vaccination ascertainment requirements, for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020 employers in California need not be concerned with different COVID-19 prevention directives at the state and local levels. All local jurisdictions now direct employers to follow the updated Cal/OSHA standards and the state Department of Public Health’s guidance for safely reopening California.

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