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California enacts revised COVID-19 workplace rules

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Sacramento, CA — Revisions to California’s emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 have been adopted by the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, ending a tumultuous process that nearly forced fully vaccinated workers to continue following mask and physical distance rules.

With a 5-1 vote June 17, the board approved the revisions from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health – also known as Cal/OSHA. They include the elimination of physical distancing and mask requirements (except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where the state’s Department of Public Heath requires everyone to wear them) for fully vaccinated workers. Additionally, fully vaccinated employees don’t need to be offered testing or excluded from work after close contact, unless they have COVID-19 symptoms.

According to a press release from the Department of Industrial Relations, the revisions are based on recent guidance from CDPH in light of the increased number of people vaccinated.

The board initially approved the revised rules June 3. However, during a special meeting six days later that featured more than 2.5 hours of public comment, the board voted to withdraw that approval. In May, according to the Los Angeles Times, the board delayed a scheduled vote after several members expressed concern about rolling back worker protections, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently relaxed its recommendations.

 

This time, after the board’s vote, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed an Executive Order making the revisions effective immediately, forgoing the normal 10-day review by the state’s Office of Administrative Law.

The original standards, adopted Nov. 20, were scheduled to be in place until Oct. 2.

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