California Likely To Require Masks At Many Workplaces After June 15

Early last month, Governor Gavin Newsom assured Californians that masks were soon going away for fully-vaccinated residents. Asked by a reporter if there would be a mask mandate after June 15, the usually-loquacious Newsom said quickly, “No.” He then enumerated a few rare circumstances where masks would still be needed.

The following day, the Governor qualified his assurance saying, “For indoor activities we still will have, likely, some mask mandates. But the hope is those will be lifted sooner rather than later.”

That Newsom got out over his skis is understandable. He’s facing a recall election and, like the rest of us, trying to interpret conflicting signals from the CDC and President Biden.

But a committee charged with recommending Covid safety measures to the CA Occupational Safety and Health Standards (CalOSHA) Board, advises in a new draft document that masking in the workplace should continue after June 15.

The document says, in part, that “Employers shall provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees over the nose and mouth when indoors, when outdoors and less than six feet away from another person…” The primary exceptions to this rule would be “When an employee is alone in a room, or when all persons in a room are fully vaccinated and do not have Covid-19 symptoms,” or while “Employees [are] wearing respirators…”

The upshot of those strictures would be that unvaccinated employees would need to wear masks while at work. Also, the presence of one unvaccinated person in a room full of otherwise vaccinated employees would mean everyone has to don a mask. Employers may also be required to track who is vaccinated and who is not. Talk about peer pressure.

Additionally, CDC guidance issued this weekend advises unvaccinated people to wear masks “anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people who don’t live with you.”

As for physical distancing, the CA recommendations say that, through July 31, 2022 “all employees shall be separated from other persons by at least six feet” unless respirators are being worn.

There is no suggested end date on the CA mask recommendations. They will be discussed at a meeting of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board Thursday morning. The seven members of that panel are appointed by Governor Newsom.

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