California employers may need to update their existing policies regarding masks in the workplace. The California Department of Public Health has issued an Order requiring masks be worn in all California indoor public settings, irrespective of vaccine status. The Order is effective December 15, 2021, through January 15, 2022.

The following individuals are exempt from wearing masks at all times indoors:

  • Persons younger than two years old.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask.
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or who communicate with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

While local ordinances in areas such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco, and Alameda County already have existing ordinances requiring the use of masks in indoor public settings, many employers in other areas of the state discontinued their mask-wearing policies when California lifted the requirement earlier this year. Employers should review their former policies to make sure they follow the current statewide Order and reinstate such policies at least for the next 30 days.

The facts, laws, and regulations regarding COVID-19 are developing rapidly. Since the date of publication, there may be new or additional information not referenced in this advisory. Please consult with your legal counsel for guidance.

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