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July 22, 2021

A Rise In COVID Cases Triggers Rigorous Local Mask Mandates

As reported here, Cal/OSHA’s June 17th Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) amendments were intended to bring California Department of Public Health mask guidelines and Cal-OSHA’s workplace requirements more in line with CDC recommendations. A welcome turn of events allowing employers a more identifiable means of preparing to return workers to the workplace.

However, since the passage of the ETS amendments, several counties have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases. In response, many local counties, including the Los Angeles County Public Health Department (LADPH), have issued revised orders.[i]  Under LADPH’s new order, everyone must wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status in the following situations:

  • In all public settings, venues, gatherings, and businesses in Los Angeles County
  • On planes, trains, buses, ferries, taxis and ride-shares, and all other forms of public transport
  • In transportation hubs like airports, bus terminals, train stations, marinas, seaports and other ports, subway stations, or any other area that provides transportation
  • Healthcare settings, including long-term care facilities.
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
  • Shelters and cooling centers
  • Indoor at any youth-serving facility (such as K-12 schools, childcare, day camps, etc.)
  • In any outdoor location where it is the policy of the business or venue.

Individuals, businesses, venue operators or a host of public indoor settings must:

  • Require all patrons to wear masks for all indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination status; and,
  • Post clearly visible and easy to read signage, with or without having an employee present, at all entry points for indoor and outdoor settings to communicate the masking requirements to patrons.

While allowing fully vaccinated employees to forgo face coverings in the workplace upon providing proof, or attesting, that they are fully vaccinated, Cal-OSHA ETS requirements also allow local health jurisdictions to require more protective mandates. Accordingly, the LADPH order overrides the more permissible Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards.

The most stringent requirement under the LADPH order is the testing requirement for workers who cannot feasibly wear a mask while performing their work. The LADPH order requires these employees to be tested for COVID-19 at least twice per week unless the employer is provided proof of the employee’s full vaccination status or proof of recovery from laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days. The LADPH order also requires masks to be worn in all indoor public places in Los Angeles County. More information can be found on the LADPH website.

Following a joint statement issued by several Northern California Counties, strongly recommending masking for everyone indoors, it is expected that more counties will soon follow LADPH’s lead in issuing stronger masking mandates.

Employers should begin checking their local county health department website to assure compliance with any revised masking mandates.

[i] LADPH’s order went into effect on July 17, 2021. (Highlighting of the LADPH order courtesy of LADPH).