Seyfarth Synopsis: Several California counties currently have mask “recommendations” that are stricter than the state’s guidance, recommending all people wear masks in indoor settings. As of 11:59 p.m. on July 17, 2021, Los Angeles will go a step further, implementing a revised Public Health Order with a new mask mandate requiring people—regardless of vaccination status—to wear masks in public indoor settings.
Spike in COVID-19 Cases Prompts New Mandatory Restrictions In Los Angeles
The Los Angeles County Health Department noted that COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County increased sevenfold since California’s June 15 reopening, and test positivity rates continue to creep up. Based on this, and until July 15, 2021, Los Angeles County “strongly recommended” people “wear masks indoors in public places when you don’t know everyone’s vaccination status regardless of your vaccination status.”
In a further attempt to curb recent spikes in cases, Los Angeles County announced that it is turning the recent recommendation into an order. The new Order requires individuals to wear face coverings in public indoor spaces and businesses—regardless of vaccination status.
This new mask Order is more stringent than the state’s guidance and Cal/OSHA’s ETS (which permits fully vaccinated individuals to forgo masks in many circumstances), and will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, 2021. Businesses in Los Angeles County who are covered by this Order will need to update their mask policies, post clearly visible signage regarding masking rules, and require all employees and patrons to wear masks in indoor settings.
The Order also requires that employees who are not fully vaccinated (or recovered from COVID-19 within the last 90 days), and who cannot wear masks while at work, be tested for COVID-19 at least twice per week. This is likewise more stringent than the ETS, which only requires once weekly testing.
Multiple Other Counties Strongly Recommend Face Coverings Indoors
In what appears to be a growing trend, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Fresno counties, as well as the City of Berkeley, also strongly recommend that everyone wear face coverings in public indoor spaces (regardless of vaccination status) due to growing concerns of the rapidly spreading Delta variant and increasing COVID-19 cases. As cases rise in California, other health departments seem to be considering similar recommendations.
As the dust settles on the new Cal/OSHA ETS, employers need to remain flexible and prepared to adhere to more stringent local requirements. And don’t forget that employers governed by the ETS who provide residential housing will also now need to provide face coverings and information to residents on when face coverings should be used in accordance with the updated local orders and guidance.
To ensure compliance with California’s patchwork of COVID regulations, please don’t hesitate to consult a Seyfarth attorney, including any member of Seyfarth’s Workplace Safety Team, with any COVID-19 related questions.
Edited by Coby Turner