Posted June 2021 by S. Ward Heinrichs
The Whipsaw of Cal/OSHA Covid Regulations
Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, issued an executive order which eliminated the California Covid mandates. It became effective on June 15, 2021. Now, businesses will have no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements for its patrons. Fully vaccinated people will not need to wear masks, except in the following places where everyone must still don masks: public transportation, hospitals, long term care facilities, inside at public schools and childcare, prisons, and homeless shelters. Unvaccinated people will still need to wear masks in all indoor settings. No one will be required to physical distance anymore.
So far, so good, right?
Unfortunately, Cal/OSHA did not want to keep up with Governor Gavin Newsome’s more liberal rules. In contrast, it wanted to keep the California workplace restricted to a greater degree than the rest of California.
On June 3, Cal/OSHA proposed new Covid restrictions for California workers. First, businesses would not need to require physical distancing so long as they provided N95 masks to unvaccinated employees, but it did not require unvaccinated workers to wear the N95 masks. Second, unless all workers in an indoor area were vaccinated, all workers would need to wear masks. Third, fully vaccinated workers would not need to wear masks outside, but unvaccinated outside workers would be required to wear them or stay six feet from other people.
Are you dizzy yet?
Of course, business groups loudly objected. In response, on June 11, Cal/OSHA took another stab at creating reasonable Covid workplace requirements. Unfortunately, until they become effective, the Covid work place regulations will not change at all: 1) All workers must wear masks and social distance when indoors, and, 2) when outdoors, they must social distance or wear masks.
Luckily, the June 11 Cal/OSHA proposed rules make more sense. The new proposals eliminate physical distancing, do not require vaccinated workers to wear masks except in special situations, and only require unvaccinated workers to wear masks when indoors or in a vehicle. Assuming the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board accepts the newly proposed rules on June 17, they should go into effect on June 28.
Employment Law Office of Ward Heinrichs
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