Governor Newsom’s Latest Executive Order Updates New Cal/OSHA Regulations To Align With CDPH Quarantine Requirements
On December 14, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-84-20, which, among other things, modifies the COVID-19 exposure exclusion periods in the newly enacted Cal/OSHA regulations (discussed in our previous alert Imminent New Cal-OSHA COVID-19 Regulations Will Create New Burdens for Employers, Including a Duty to Pay Workers Excluded from the Workplace Due to Concerns over COVID-19) to align with the California Department of Public Health’s (“CDPH”) recommendations.
Under the existing Cal/OSHA regulations, employers are required to exclude employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace for “14 days after the last known COVID-19 exposure to a COVID-19 case.” (§3205(c)(10)(B)) The new Executive Order suspends the COVID-19 exposure exclusion period and instead adopts any applicable quarantine or isolation period recommended by the CDPH, including in the December 14, 2020 Updated COVID19 Quarantine Guidelines or any applicable quarantine or isolation period recommended or ordered by a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace.
In the updated guidelines, the CDPH decreased the recommended quarantine period for “asymptomatic close contacts” (i.e. individuals who were within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period but do not show symptoms associated with COVID-19) from 14 days to 10 days from the date of last exposure with or without testing.
In addition, the CDPH further decreased the quarantine period for certain essential critical infrastructure workers from 14 days to 7 days from the date of last exposure, if they have received a negative PCR (i.e. diagnostic) test result from a specimen collected after Day 5. This shortened time period only applies during critical staffing shortages when there is not enough staff to provide safe patient care and only pertains to the following types of employees:
- Exposed, asymptomatic health care workers
- Exposed, asymptomatic emergency response workers (The Order did not define “emergency response workers,” but it may include employees falling within the “Emergency Services” Sector of California’s Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers List)
- Exposed, asymptomatic social service workers who work face to face with clients in the child welfare system or in assisted living facilities
In order to reduce the quarantine period to 10 days (or 7 days for the above-listed essential critical infrastructure workers), the “asymptomatic close contacts” must do all of the following:
- Adhere strictly to all CDC-recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing face coverings at all times, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others and the interventions required below, through Day 14.
- Use surgical face masks at all times during work for those returning after Day 7 and continue to use face coverings when outside the home through Day 14 after last exposure.
- Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms through Day 14 and if symptoms occur, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health department or healthcare provider and seek testing.
In issuing these new guidelines, the CDPH cautions that local health jurisdictions may be more restrictive than the new guidelines provided by the CDPH. In that case, employers in those jurisdictions would need to comply with the more stringent local health authority’s guidelines. In addition, the CDPH still recommends a quarantine period of 14 days for (1) persons who reside or work in a high-risk congregate living setting (e.g. skilled nursing facilities, prisons, jails, shelters) or (2) persons residing or working with severely immunosuppressed persons (e.g. bone marrow or solid organ transplants, chemotherapy) in the absence of any staffing shortages.
In light of these new guidelines, employers will need to adjust their COVID-19 Prevention Plans to reflect the new guidance. Please contact your AALRR attorney with any follow-up questions about this change.