New CDPH Guidance and Executive Order Change Mask Requirements in California
On February 28, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced new guidance regarding face coverings.
Effective March 1, 2022, the requirement that unvaccinated individuals mask in indoor public settings is eliminated. It is replaced with a strong recommendation that everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, continue indoor masking in public settings, with some exceptions for continued universal masking in specified higher-risk settings.
Universal indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status, is still required in all of the following indoor settings:
- Indoors in K-12 schools and childcare settings (through March 11, 2022)
- On public transit and in transportation hubs
- Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers
- Healthcare settings
- State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
- Homeless shelters
- Long term care settings and adult and senior care facilities
In conjunction with the CDPH’s new guidance, on February 28th, Governor Newsom also signed a new Executive Order (EO) that updates the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)’s face covering requirements.
Starting March 1, employees who are not fully vaccinated are no longer required by Cal/OSHA to wear face coverings when indoors or in vehicles. However, masks are strongly recommended for all individuals in most indoor settings consistent with CDPH guidance. In addition, per the Cal/OSHA ETS, employers must still provide a face covering upon the request of an employee, regardless of their vaccination status. The new EO also extends the current Cal/OSHA ETS, which went into effect on January 14, 2022, through May 5, 2022, in order to ensure that the Cal/OSHA Standards Board has time to review the new guidance in anticipation of the next re-adoption of the ETS.
When masks are worn, CDPH highly recommends surgical masks or higher-level respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, or KF94s) with good fit. Surgical masks or respirators must be worn by unvaccinated workers in certain healthcare and other high-risk settings.
Employers should bear in mind that local public health departments may impose masking requirements that are stricter than CDPH’s or Cal/OSHA’s and, therefore, that employees may need to continue masking indoors consistent with such local requirements. Employers with questions regarding any of the new masking requirements may reach out to the author or their usual employment law counsel.