California Drops Mask Rule for Most Vaccinated Workers

June 18, 2021

California lifted its mask requirements for most vaccinated workers and eased mandates for those who have not received a COVID vaccination, but employers will face new responsibilities.

Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly enacted the updates via executive order after the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted the revisions in a 5–1 decision.

Biggest rule changes end the mask requirement for fully vaccinated workers in most situations.  Unvaccinated workers are now allowed to go maskless outdoors but are still required to wear face coverings indoors.  The changes apply to most workers in California, except for health-care workers, who are covered by a separate airborne disease rule that is not being changed.

New Employer Requirements:

  • Differentiating between fully vaccinated and unvaccinated workers require employers to track their employees’ vaccination status and maintain those records.

    • Acceptable proof includes workers providing copies of their vaccination cards or self-attesting they are fully vaccinated.

  • Employers must offer unvaccinated workers N95 or similar respirators at no cost, provide training on the correct use of masks and respirators, inform workers of their right to request a respirator, and educate workers about the efficacy of vaccines and how to get vaccinated.

Social distancing and physical partitions are not required if everyone working indoors is fully vaccinated or wearing a mask.  However, employers must consider separating workers by at least six feet or using partitions if at least three workers become infected within two weeks.  Partitions will be mandatory if there are 20 or more COVID-19 cases within 30 days.