ATTENTION CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS: What California’s June 15th Reopening Means for Employers – More of the Same…for Now

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For months, Californians have been waiting for the State to reopen and it has finally arrived!

The official reopening will include moving away from the color-coded tier system, lifting capacity limits, loosening travel restrictions, no longer requiring physical distancing in most settings, and consistency with the CDC’s mask guidance (you can read about the CDC’s mask guidelines HERE). However, with the new guidelines comes confusion for California employers as they attempt to navigate reopening and a patchwork of applicable guidelines and regulations. This update provides a quick overview of the current requirements for California employers as of today (expect changes later this week).

Although the state has loosened its COVID-19 protocols, local governments as well as government agencies can still impose stricter regulations, which can supersede the guidelines issued by the Governor and even the CDC. While most counties seem to be aligning themselves with the State, other counties, such as Santa Clara, are considering adopting stricter protocols. In other words, even if California’s reopening no longer requires the public to wear masks, a county’s health ordinance may still require it in the workplace, and employers must comply.

Additionally, California OSHA (Cal OSHA), which earlier this month was ready to adopt less restrictive standards, has since abandoned the revisions to its Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). As such, the stricter November 30, 2020 ETS are still in effect. This includes enforcing physical distancing within the workplace, providing face coverings to employees and ensuring they are worn properly within the workplace, and excluding any positive COVID-19 cases as well as employees who have been exposed from the workplace. The only exception under the ETS, which went into effect on May 5, 2021, is that vaccinated employees are no longer excluded from the workplace following exposure to COVID-19, provided they are asymptomatic. 

Cal OSHA is anticipated to vote on revisions to the ETS on June 17, 2021, which will likely go into effect no earlier than June 28, 2021. The revised ETS will be more consistent with California’s reopening guidelines. However, until those revisions are officially approved and enacted, California employers should abide by the November 30, 2020 ETS, despite California’s full reopening…for now. Stay tuned for further updates coming soon.
If you have any questions questions about this article or on how to remain compliant with Cal OSHA and/or local COVID-19 regulations, please feel free to reach out to us at NFC at sfode@nfclegal.com or 619.292.0515.

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