California regulators set mask dropping regulations for vaccinated workers in accordance with state and federal regulations – NBC 7 San Diego

California regulators on Thursday approved revised workplace pandemic rules that give employees fully vaccinated against the coronavirus the same freedoms as they would in their absence, including ending most mask duties.

The revised regulations, approved by the governor-appointed California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, come after weeks of confusion. The rules, passed in a 5: 1 vote, are now in line with general government guidelines that went into effect on Tuesday by ending most of the mask rules for vaccinated individuals.

Governor Gavin Newsom immediately issued an executive order that waived the usual 10-day legal review. The new rules will come into effect as soon as they are submitted to the State Department.

“I have a draft executive order that will be ready for dispatch immediately after the vote to provide clarifications and provide more certainty,” said the Democratic governor.

The rules apply to almost every workplace in the state, including offices, factories, and retailers.

They are designed to ensure workers are protected while businesses resume normal or near-normal operations, said Eric Berg, deputy chief of health for the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal / OSHA, the board member.

Business groups had requested the changes, arguing that the rules for businesses should conform to state guidelines based on the latest recommendations from the federal agencies for disease control and prevention.

Board member Laura Stock, an occupational safety expert who cast the only opposition vote, said that while people are tired of the restrictions, the pandemic is not over.

“This has real ramifications that people can get sick and die from exposure in the workplace,” said Stock.

She said the rules went too far by eliminating physical distancing and job segregations and allowing workers to report their vaccination status on their own.

Mitch Steiger, a California Labor Federation legislative supporter, AFL-CIO, also argued that the measures “are essentially pretending the pandemic is over.”

The move comes after the board of directors did a double backflip in the past few weeks of first postponing, then rejecting, then approving, and then repealing rules that would have allowed workers to go without masks only if everyone Employee in a room was fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear masks except in places like public transport and classrooms where they are required for everyone or in the event of outbreaks.

Physical distancing will also end with major outbreaks, with the exception of certain workers. Vaccinated employees do not need to be tested or quarantined unless they show symptoms, even when they are in close contact with an infected person.

Employers must document that workers who do not wear masks indoors are in fact fully vaccinated. However, employers have the option of requiring workers to provide evidence of vaccination or allowing workers to report their status themselves, with the employer keeping a record of who is doing the latter.

You could also decide that everyone must remain masked – vaccinated or not. And vaccinated employees can continue to wear masks if they choose to without retaliation.

Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, said the rules were not entirely in line with other standards in the state. Others argued that they would still cause confusion.

This is due to the requirement that employers provide masks and keep track of employees’ vaccination status. A recording he and others said could lead to liability and privacy issues.

“They remain a significant barrier to the full reopening of the economy,” Lapsley said.

Katie Hansen, senior legislative director of the California Restaurant Association, said it was unrealistic to expect unvaccinated employees to remain masked until the emergency labor rules expire early next year, while others generally drop their face coverings.

The California Chamber of Commerce took a milder approach, thanking Newsom for clearing the confusion by making a commitment to comply with workplace rules with the state’s eased pandemic precautions.

That includes ending social distancing obligations immediately, rather than waiting until July 31st as Cal / OSHA originally suggested.

The board also praised a rule change requiring employers to provide unvaccinated employees with the most effective N95 masks free of charge upon request.

Others argued, however, that the rule will still require employers to stock masks and compete with health care workers, despite Newsom promising to provide a month-long supply of masks.

There have been 700 workplace outbreaks and more than 10,000 infections in California in the past 30 days, Cal / OSHA’s Berg said, but he said the N95 was the best alternative as other protective measures are waning.

Robert Moutrie, a proponent of Chamber of Commerce policies, called the latest proposal a “measured step” that starts too fast for some companies and not fast enough for others.

“But we think this is a good step in that direction,” said Moutrie.

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