Face Coverings Required Indoors Statewide Through January 15, 2022, Regardless of Vaccination Status


On December 13, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued updated Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings (the “CDPH Guidance”) requiring “universal” masking indoors statewide, effective December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022, regardless of vaccination status. Significantly, the operative State Public Health Officer Order requires compliance with the CDPH Guidance, making the “guidance” a mandate for all individuals in the State.

The CDPH Guidance requires all individuals to wear masks in all indoor public settings statewide, regardless of vaccination status, for the next four weeks (December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022). According to the CDPH Guidance, this “universal” indoor mask mandate during the holidays and peak-travel period was triggered in part by concerns surrounding the latest Omicron COVID-19 variant, which has spread throughout the United States, and a statewide increase in hospitalizations and average case rate following the Thanksgiving holiday. The same limited exemptions to the masking requirement apply for certain individuals as with prior versions of the CDPH Guidance, including for children younger than two years old, persons with a medical or mental health condition or a disability that prevents wearing a mask, those communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, and certain workers. 

Importantly, Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) specifically requires employers to follow CDPH orders with regard to face coverings, and “encourages employers to follow the California Department of Public Health’s guidance recommending all individuals wear face coverings while indoors.”  Therefore, California employers with on-site employees should promptly review their COVID-19 workplace masking policies to assure compliance with all applicable mandates and guidance. 

AALRR will continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 restrictions statewide.  Employers should take care to comply with all local and State restrictions and guidelines.  If you have any questions regarding the new CDPH Guidance or what your organization needs to do to stay in compliance, including assistance with workplace masking policies, please contact the authors or your usual counsel at AALRR who can provide advice and counsel specific to your particular circumstances.

This AALRR publication is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other AALRR publication does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Firm is not responsible for inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process. 

© 2021 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo



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