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Statewide Universal Masking Expires February 15th but Employers Need to Consider Local and Cal/OSHA Requirements
Wednesday, February 9, 2022

In January the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) extended universal masking indoors through February 15, 2022, due to a continued COVID-19 surge. In advance of the expiration, Governor Newsom announced that universal masking would not be extended again. The CDPH also published mask guidance for after February 15th.

Effective February 16, 2022, universal indoor masking will end. However, all individuals regardless of vaccination status will still be required to wear masks in the following indoor settings:

  • On public transit

  • Indoors in K-12 schools and childcare

  • Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers

  • Healthcare settings

  • State and local correction facilities and detention centers

  • Homeless shelters

  • Long term care settings and adult and senior care facilities

In addition, unvaccinated individuals will be required to wear masks in indoor public settings and businesses. Vaccinated individuals are recommended, but will not be required, to wear masks indoors when the risk may be high.

The CDPH guidance states that for businesses where only unvaccinated individuals must wear masks, the business may choose to:

  • Provide information to all patrons, guests, and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry.

  • Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.

  • Require all patrons to wear masks.

Cal/OSHA’s Amended COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) went into effect on January 14, 2022. Under the current ETS, unvaccinated individuals in the workplace must wear a mask. If an employer is not tracking vaccination status, then it must treat all employees as unvaccinated – meaning all employees would have to wear a mask. Employers should be mindful of other mask requirements under the ETS, including, but not limited to, screening, return to work, outbreak situations, and when required by the CDPH.

Finally, employers should check local health orders and ordinances regarding masking as some local public health departments have set plans to continue universal masking mandates despite the coming expiration of the state requirements.

Employers should continue to monitor local health departments, the California Department of Public Health, and Cal/OSHA for changes to COVID-19 workplace requirements.

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