On June 18th the California Department of Public Health issued guidance broadly mandating that individuals in California wear face coverings in most circumstances.  This new state guidance follows face-covering mandates previously issued by many California cities and counties.

The state guidance specifies that individuals engaged in work whether at the workplace or offsite must wear face coverings when:

  1. Interacting with any member of the public in-person,
  2. Working in a space visited by the public, even if no member of the public is present,
  3. Working in a space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution,
  4. Working in or walking through common areas of a business, or
  5. When driving or operating public transportation, including private car service.

The new guidance provides several exemptions from its requirements.  For example, individuals who have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing face-covering or if wearing one would create a risk to the person related to their work.  Individuals exempted from wearing a face-covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job with regular contact with others should wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom, as their condition permits.

The State encourages employers to review industry-specific guidance available regarding the wearing of face coverings and masks.

The State also indicates surgical masks (manufactured paper masks) should be reserved for medical personnel, as well as workers in manufacturing, food processing, community/social services, social work, in-home daycare, law enforcement/public safety, and schools. Workers using surgical masks should start every day with a new mask. The guidance states employees in such industries should be provided surgical masks at work.

N95 masks, masks that as a respirator that blocks particles, are also reserved for medical personnel and other industries where they are required. As with surgical masks, the guidance states N95 masks should be provided by employers in industries where they are required.

California employers should also check city and county orders where they operate to determine if additional requirements apply to their industry.

Jackson Lewis is tracking new rules and regulations related to COVID-19 and workplace safety. If you have questions or concerns about complying with California workplace regulations, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.