Governor Newsom announced Monday that California's COVID-19 State of Emergency will come to an end on February 28, 2023, after being in effect for almost three years. The four-month phaseout timeline is designed to provide California's health care system flexibility to handle any potential surges that may occur over the winter holidays and provide sufficient time for the state and local governments to prepare for the phaseout.
Initially declared on March 4, 2020, the State of Emergency provided Governor Newsom with broad powers to respond to the then-unfolding pandemic. The Governor has since extended the State of Emergency five times and has issued over 70 executive orders on COVID-related issues including stay-at-home orders and vaccination and mask mandates.
As the State of Emergency is phased out, the SMARTER Plan, announced by California's Department of Public Health in February 2022, will continue to guide the state's work in the next phase of the pandemic on issues including vaccines, masks, testing and readiness. In addition, Governor Newsom's announcement stated that his administration will be seeking two statutory changes immediately upon the Legislature's return to continue to allow nurses to dispense COVID-19 therapeutics and laboratory workers to solely process COVID-19 tests.
Notably, the end of California's state of emergency does not eliminate all statewide COVID obligations. For example, Cal OSHA is expected to implement revised workplace COVID-19 protocols in January 2023, and those protocols are expected to be in place for multiple years. Similarly, it is important to remember that the governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a patchwork of federal, state, county, and local orders and protocols. While the end of California's state of emergency may affect statewide laws, regulations, and orders, it will not necessarily affect COVID rules put into effect by county and city governments.
As always, DWT will continue to monitor these issues and provide updates as needed. In the meantime, if you have any questions about your company's compliance, please contact a member of the DWT Employment Services Group.