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Currently, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requires employers to review and use current California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance for persons who had close contact to an individual with COVID-19, including any guidance regarding quarantine or other measures after a close contact to reduce COVID-19 transmission. On June 8, 2022, the CDPH issued a revised order with new definitions. These revised definitions are therefore immediately incorporated in to the Cal/OSHA ETS requirements for exclusion of close contacts, which in turn impact employers’ obligations under the ETS.


The revised definitions are as follows.

Close Contact

“Close contact” is defined as an individual who shares the same indoor airspace (e.g., home, clinic waiting room, airplane, etc.) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period (for example, 3 individual 5-minute exposures totaling 15 minutes) during an infected person’s infectious period.

Infectious Period

“Infectious period” is defined as follows:

  • For symptomatic infected individuals, 2 days before the infected person had any symptoms through day 10 after symptoms first appeared (or through days 5 to 10 if the individual tests negative on day 5 or later), and 24 hours have passed without fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms have improved, or
  • For asymptomatic infected individuals, 2 days before the positive specimen collection date through day 10 after the positive specimen collection date (or through days 5 to 10 if an individual tests negative on day 5 or later) after the specimen collection date of the first positive COVID-19 test.

Same Indoor Space

The terminology “same indoor airspace” is a deviation from prior definitions and terminology used since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Previously, “close contacts” meant “being within six feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or greater in any 24-hour period within or overlapping with the infectious period.” The updated CDPH guidance drastically expands the definition of close contact well beyond any meaning used during the last two years and requires employers to update their policies and procedures for excluding close contacts pursuant to the CDPH guideline tables.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to California’s COVID-19 mandates and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center and on the California blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.

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