California and local governments are taking steps this week to eliminate the indoor mask requirement.
On the state level, on February 28, Governor Newsom signed an order updating the Cal/OSHA ETS and suspending the portion of the ETS requiring employers to provide face coverings and ensure they are worn when indoors or in vehicles to employees who were not fully vaccinated. The Governor’s office stated, “In California, starting March 1, masks will no longer be required for unvaccinated workers indoors, consistent with the updated CDPH guidance, but will be strongly recommended for all individuals in most indoor settings. Employers must still provide a face covering upon request of an employee.”
Today, March 1, 2022, Cal/OSHA updated its website and removed FAQ #1 under Face Covering and Other Controls in its document titled “COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Frequently Asked Questions.” The removed FAQ required employers to “provide employees who are not fully vaccinated with face coverings and to ensure they are properly worn over the nose and mount when indoor and in vehicles.” This brings Cal/OSHA into alignment with the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) updated guidance for the use of face masks that applies across California. The CDPH’s updated guidance sets forth, “[e]ffective March 1, 2022 , the requirement that unvaccinated individuals mask in indoor public settings will move to a strong recommendation that all persons, regardless of vaccine status, continue indoor masking.” Masking requirements still are in effect for specified high-risk settings, such as health care facilities, public transit (such as airports, taxis), correctional facilities, and at homeless shelters, and long-term facilities.
In addition, Los Angeles County is likely to eliminate its indoor mask requirement this Friday, March 4, 2022. NBC reports, “Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday the county is prepared to issue a revised health order on Thursday, effective Friday, dropping the indoor mask mandate.”
For now, employers need to continue to abide by Los Angeles City and County masking requirements and watch for updates this Thursday for the potential changes to take place on Friday.