COVID Update: State Lifts Most COVID Restrictions; OSHA GuidanceDrew Hendricks
Last week, we informed you about the State’s “full reopening” of the economy that occurred on June 15, and explained what it means for your communities. Today’s newsletter is intended to update and replace last week’s newsletter. The most significant update involves Cal/OSHA’s new workplace mask standards, designed to align closely with California’s general mask guidance. This newsletter is intended to respond to the most frequently asked questions we’ve received about the reopening of California’s economy, so you can effectively manage your communities.
What does “Full Reopening” mean? Full reopening means that, in most cases, California is no longer imposing capacity limits, physical distancing requirements, or vaccine verification/negative testing requirements. Most sectors of the economy can return to their usual operations. There’s an exception for mega events (indoor events with more than 5,000 people, and outdoor events of more than 10,000 people), but that’s not expected to impact your communities.
For the past year, we’ve been informing you about changes to the State’s Guidance regarding swimming pools, gyms, spas, playgrounds, and other common facilities. All of those capacity limits have been eliminated statewide as of June 15, 2021.
What about the Color-Coded Tier System? The color-coded tier system was known as “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” It imposed capacity limits and social distancing requirements on your pools, gyms and other common facilities depending on whether your County was in the yellow, orange, red, or purple tier. Effective June 15, 2021, that color-coded tier system was eliminated statewide.
What about my county? Counties can still impose restrictions that are stricter than those of the State. However, at this time, it appears that most counties have followed the State by lifting the restrictions discussed above. This includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
Do we still have to wear masks? The State Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance that took effect on June 15.
Masks are still required both for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the following settings: on public transport and in transportation hubs, indoors in K-12 schools or childcare settings (pending new guidance), healthcare settings, and a few other areas. This doesn’t apply to persons younger than 2, the hearing impaired, or persons with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.
Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals in the following settings: indoor public settings and businesses such as retail, restaurants, theaters and meetings. The state is not requiring that vaccinated individuals wear masks in these settings. This means that if you are holding an indoor Board meeting at your clubhouse, all unvaccinated individuals must still wear a mask.
If we hold an indoor Board meeting, how do we determine who is vaccinated or not? According to the CDPH, you can select among the following options:
- Provide information to all in attendance regarding vaccination requirements, and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance before entry;
- Implement vaccine verification requirements to determine whether individuals are unvaccinated and therefore required to wear a mask; or
- Require all attendees to wear a mask, in order to avoid either of the above options.
If you’re worried about implementing any of the above, the simplest choice is to continue to hold meetings by video conference.
What about work? Do we have to wear a mask at work? On Thursday, June 17, Cal/OSHA voted to update its workplace mask guidelines to align with those of CDPH. The key elements of the new OSHA guidelines are:
- Vaccinated employees are not required to wear masks indoors (except if working at any of the areas of exception listed above: transportation hubs, indoors in K-12 schools, etc…);
- Unvaccinated employees must still wear masks in indoor settings (except if alone in a room);
- Masks are not required outdoors for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers;
- Physical distancing and barrier requirements in the workplace have been largely lifted, except if a facility has a COVID outbreak;
- Businesses can choose to be more strict when it comes to masks; and
- Employers need to document who is vaccinated, but do not need to retain copies of vaccination cards.
How long will all of this remain in place? The State has indicated that it will keep a close eye on COVID vaccination and infection rates during the summer, and will keep the above restrictions in place until at least October 1, 2021. Of course, if rates begin to increase again, this could change.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Community Legal Advisors Inc.
Michael J. Alti, Esq.