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Cal/OSHA Emergency Rules Extended as New Masking Requirement Takes Effect

A day after the California Department of Public Health issued an order requiring everyone in California to wear a mask when in work settings and indoor public places, Cal/OSHA’s Standards Board voted to extend the agency’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standard.

The moves come on the back of a significant rise in new COVID-19 cases in the state (as well as the nation) and the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The CDPH order, which took effect Dec. 15, requires that everybody wear a mask in public indoor places as well as all indoor workplaces. The full order covers public places such as:

  • Airports
  • Health care settings
  • Movie theaters
  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Government offices that serve the public

The guidance applies to all workplaces regardless of whether they serve the public or are open to the public.

Cal/OSHA’s emergency temporary COVID-19 standard requires employers to “provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees when required by orders from the CDPH.” Employers that don’t comply can be subject to Cal/OSHA fines and enforcement action, such as remediation.

The new CDPH order will stay in effect until Jan. 15, but it could be extended if coronavirus case counts keep growing in number.

Changes to emergency temporary standard

Meanwhile, Cal/OSHA’s Standards Board voted to revise and extend the current emergency temporary standard. The revised rules take effect on Jan. 14 and will be in effect for 90 days.

Here are the changes that the Standards Board adopted in the revised emergency temporary standard:

  • Fully vaccinated workers who may have been exposed to the virus at work will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing at work. Current rules do not require fully vaccinated workers to take those precautions if they had been exposed to a worker who tests positive for the coronavirus.
  • Employers are required to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to employees who were fully vaccinated before the “close contact” with a COVID-19 case occurred, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • During outbreaks and major outbreaks, employers must now make weekly testing (outbreaks) or twice-weekly testing (major outbreaks) available to asymptomatic fully vaccinated employees in the exposed group.
  • Employees who have recently recovered from COVID-19 and those who are fully vaccinated are not required to be excluded from the workplace after “close contact,” but must wear a face covering and maintain 6 feet of physical distancing for 14 calendar days following the last date of contact.

The rest of the temporary order stays intact, including:

  • People who test positive and unvaccinated people who were exposed qualify to be paid to stay home.
  • Unvaccinated employees must wear masks at work. That is despite employers being required only to ask, but not verify, whether people have gotten the shots.


Here’s the official announcement from CAL/OSHA.

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