On February 23, 2022, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) issued an order, effective February 25, 2022, that slightly loosened the rules for wearing COVID-19 masks in the county. One day after the LACDPH order, on February 24, 2022, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the interim “Public Order Under City of Los Angeles Emergency Authority” that mirrored the new Los Angeles County order. While these revisions make the orders from both the county and city much more similar to the California state masking rules currently in effect, they remain stricter than the current state rules.
The general rule in both the county and city of Los Angeles is that individuals still must wear masks, with certain exceptions for fully vaccinated individuals. Everyone who is not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask in all indoor public places in the county and city of Los Angeles.
Who is required to wear a mask in the county and city of Los Angeles?
Everyone who is two years of age or older, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask in the following settings: on all public transit and transit hubs; at all healthcare settings; in correctional facilities; in shelters and cooling centers; and indoors at youth-serving facilities, such as schools, childcare centers, and day camps (except for individuals with certain medical conditions or disabilities and people instructed by their medical providers not to wear masks).
In addition, the orders include specific masking rules for certain sectors in which a higher risk of infection requires additional risk reduction measures. These sectors include the following:
- Day camps
- Schools (K-12) and school districts
- Mega events (outdoor [10,000 or more attendees] and indoor [1,000 or more attendees])
- Organized youth sports activities
- Bars, breweries, wineries, and distilleries
- Nightclubs and lounges
Employers in these businesses may want to review the county and city orders to ensure they comply with industry-specific rules.
May Los Angeles-area businesses allow individuals who are not fully vaccinated to unmask indoors?
No. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must remain masked indoors.
Are fully vaccinated individuals exempt from wearing a mask indoors in the county and city of Los Angeles?
Yes, in some circumstances. Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks indoors if the business or venue verifies vaccination status or requires proof of a negative test taken within forty-eight hours for all individuals entering the business or venue. If a business does not verify vaccination status or request a negative test result from all indoor customers then everyone must continue to wear a mask.
This means that all customers who are fully vaccinated must provide proof of vaccination and all customers who are not fully vaccinated must provide proof of a negative test to enter the facility before anyone is permitted to unmask. In addition, unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear a mask in all indoor settings even if they provide a negative test.
Must individuals have received a booster vaccine to qualify as fully vaccinated?
No. An individual still is considered “fully vaccinated” under these interim orders two weeks after having received the second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks or more after having received a single-dose vaccine.
Must all businesses permit customers, visitors, employees and/or workers who are fully vaccinated to unmask?
No. Businesses and other establishments may continue to require indoor masking for all customers, visitors, and workers if they prefer to do so.
What options are available to businesses that want to permit fully vaccinated customers/visitors and/or workers to unmask?
Businesses and establishments in the county and city of Los Angeles that wish to allow customers, visitors, and/or workers to unmask have two options available:
Option 1—To allow both fully vaccinated customers/visitors and fully vaccinated on-site workers to unmask while indoors, a business must:
- Verify proof of either full vaccination against COVID-19 or a recent negative COVID-19 viral test result for all customers/visitors (ages five years or older) and all on-site workers, prior to entry.
- A customer’s or visitor’s test results must have been from a test taken within two days of entry if a PCR test or one day if an antigen test. On-site workers who are not fully vaccinated may submit a negative COVID-19 viral test result prior to work on-site, every three days. No cost testing must be made available to on-site workers. For this option, establishments, businesses, and venues also must offer, at no cost to all employees, a well-fitting respirator (e.g., N95/KN95/KF94) to maximize their protection in an unmasked indoor environment.
- Proof of full vaccination status prior to entry requires review of:
- both the individual’s photo identification; and
- the individual’s vaccination card (which includes name of person vaccinated, type of COVID-19 vaccine provided, and date last dose administered) OR a photo of a vaccination card as a separate document OR a photo of the attendee’s vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device OR documentation of the person’s full vaccination against COVID-19 from a healthcare provider OR their COVID-19 digital vaccine record.
- Proof of a recent negative COVID-19 viral test prior to entry requires review of:
- both the individual’s photo identification (for persons eighteen years of age and older), and a printed document from the test provider or laboratory or an email or text message displayed on a phone from the test provider or laboratory. The test result information needs to include the person’s name, date of test, type of test performed, and negative test result.
- results from over the counter (OTC) self-test kits are not an acceptable form of proof for customers. Workplaces may accept a negative test result from COVID-19 OTC self-test kits for employees if used per requirements issued by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
- Proof of full vaccination status prior to entry requires review of:
Option 2—To allow only fully vaccinated customers and visitors to unmask while indoors, while all on-site workers, including contractors, remain masked, businesses must:
- Verify proof of either full vaccination against COVID-19 or a recent negative COVID-19 viral test result for all customers/visitors (ages five years or older). All on-site workers must remain masked while indoors. A customer’s or visitor’s test results must have been taken within two days of entry if a PCR test or one day if an antigen test.
- Adhere to the following requirements regarding customers and masking:
- only fully vaccinated customers and visitors may be unmasked while indoors;
- customers and guests who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a well-fitting mask while indoors (as required by the state) except when actively eating or drinking; and
- on-site worksite staff, regardless of their vaccination status, are required to remain masked while indoors.
Whether or not a business opts for one of the options above, individuals do not need to meet the vaccination/negative viral test verification requirements to enter the indoor portion of the facility as long as they wear a well-fitted mask for the following purposes:
- as part of their employment to make a delivery or pick-up, provide a service or repair to the facility, or for an emergency or regulatory purpose;
- to get to the outdoor portion of the facility;
- to use an indoor restroom; or
- to order, pick up, or pay for food or drink “to go.”
Should we expect the Los Angeles county and city COVID-19 masking rules to change again?
Yes. The county and city expect to revise their COVID-19 masking rules once the county falls to a moderate rate of COVID-19 transmission. Health officials anticipate that the county will reach a moderate transmission rate within the next few weeks.
In sum, the current rules in the county and city of Los Angeles are:
- If a business or venue wants to permit fully vaccinated customers and visitors to unmask, then all customers and visitors must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test before entering.
- If a business or venue wants to permit fully vaccinated workers to unmask, then not only must all customers and visitors provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative test, but all workers who are not fully vaccinated must provide proof of a recent negative test (every three days) to enter.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates on the California blog and in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.