Only a month ago, Los Angeles and the Bay Area released criteria for lifting masking requirements that had been in place since the summer. However, with recent increases in COVID-19 cases, California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a new mandate requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public settings irrespective of vaccine status, effective December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022.

The CDPH order is vague as to the meaning of “indoor public setting.” However, the CDPH Face Covering Q&A page, indicates certain exemptions to “universal masking” suggesting a broad definition of “indoor public setting” as has been the case with prior county and state orders.

The following are exemptions to indoor masking:

  • Masks may be removed while actively eating or drinking.
  • Persons who are working alone in a closed office or room.
  • Persons who are actively performing at indoor live or recorded settings or events such as music, acting, or singing. If performers do not wear a mask indoors while performing, CDPH strongly recommends that individuals undergo screening testing at least once weekly. An FDA-approved antigen test, PCR test, or pooled PCR test is acceptable for evaluation of an individual’s COVID-19 status.
  • Persons who are obtaining a medical or cosmetic service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary to perform the services.
  • Workers who wear respiratory protection, per Cal/OSHA requirements.
  • Persons who are specifically exempted from wearing masks by other CDPH guidance.

The CDPH also issued updated requirements for attending mega-events, like concerts and sporting events, mandating proof of vaccination or a negative antigen COVID-19 test.

Employers should continue to monitor local health departments, the California Department of Public Health, and Cal/OSHA for changes to COVID-19 workplace requirements. Employers can check Jackson Lewis’ COVID-19 Advisor for updates in workplace requirements in California and around the country.

If you have questions about COVID-19 workplace requirements or related issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.