It's not news that things have changed in the fight against coronavirus variants. The surprise is how quickly recommendations have changed - inevitably followed by rapid changes in workplace requirements.
There is little new formal guidance from state or federal authorities, though change is certainly on its way. Employers should continue reviewing and updating their COVID-19 Prevention Plans: Cal-OSHA's model plan can be viewed here.
Businesses do face a variety of new, rapidly drafted local regulations. Counties throughout the state quickly adopted new indoor mask mandates that should be monitored for every location an employer maintains workplaces.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, different counties rarely adopt identical rules. But the new requirements typically share a few common elements:
They generally require face coverings for all individuals within a workplace except in limited situations, such as in a closed office, while actively eating or drinking, or when performing tasks were a covering is not feasible such as assisting hearing-impaired people.
They apply to everyone in the location, whether employee or visitor.
They adopt the definition of "Face Covering" used in Cal-OSHA's COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (addressed previously in our blog here). They include bona-fide well-fitting masks and coverings while excluding ineffective coverings such as balaclavas, bandanas, and single-ply masks.
The local regulations generally also require postings at every business entrance. We believe these should incorporate general policy terms applicable to both employees and visitors. Our firm uses a simple one-page form similar to this draft.
We expect many more changes over the coming weeks but, for now, employers should watch local requirements closely and frequently.