Masks No Longer Required in California for Fully Vaccinated Workers in Most Settings (Including Indoor Office Spaces)

3 min

As of Thursday, June 17, 2021, California employers can allow fully vaccinated workers to shed their masks at work in most settings, including office spaces. Unvaccinated workers must continue to wear masks indoors. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) voted 5-1 on Thursday to approve new workplace safety regulations for California employers, replacing stricter rules in effect since November 2020. By executive order from Governor Newsom, the new regulations are effective immediately.

Under the new regulations, an employee is considered "fully vaccinated" if "the employer has documented that the person received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine."

A newly published FAQ from Cal-OSHA is available here.

And the newly approved rules are available here.

Other highlights include the following:

  • Employers Should Document Vaccination Status. Employers are required to "document" vaccine status. Acceptable options for documentation include any of the following: (1) employees provide proof of vaccination (vaccine card, image of vaccine card, or healthcare document showing vaccination status) and employer maintains a copy; (2) employees provide proof of vaccination and the employer maintains a record of the employees who presented proof, but not the vaccine record itself; or (3) employees self-attest to vaccination status and employer maintains a record of who self-attests.
  • Physical Distancing No Longer Mandated. Physical distancing is no longer required, regardless of vaccination status, with limited exceptions (such as during a major outbreak among 20 or more employees in an exposed group).
  • Situations Where Facial Coverings Are Still Required. Unvaccinated employees and employees working in "public transit, K-12 educational facilities, health care and long-term care settings, correctional and detention facilities, and shelters" must continue to wear facial coverings in the office.
  • Employers Must Make Respirators Available to Employees Upon Request. "An employer must provide respirators in two scenarios: (1) to any unvaccinated employee who works with others indoors or in a vehicle and who requests one and (2) where there is a major outbreak, to any employees in the exposed group for voluntary use. The respirator must be the right size, and the employee must receive basic instruction on how to get a good 'seal,' or fit." Acceptable respirators are "respiratory protection device[s] approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to protect the wearer from particulate matter, such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator."
  • Employers Must Continue to Offer Free COVID-19 Testing to Some Employees. "Employers must offer testing at no cost to employees during paid time to: symptomatic unvaccinated employees, regardless of whether there is a known exposure; unvaccinated employees after an exposure; vaccinated employees after an exposure if they develop symptoms; unvaccinated employees in an outbreak; and all employees in a major outbreak."