On Friday, July 16, 2021, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) issued a health order requiring all individuals regardless of vaccination status to wear face coverings in “[a]ll indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and businesses.” The order’s list of locations in which all individuals must wear face coverings includes “offices, retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, and state and local government offices serving the public.”
The LACDPH health order states that even fully-vaccinated individuals must wear masks, in part because “community transmission of COVID-19 has rapidly increased from Low to Substantial in one month” (since June 15, 2021), when California reopened. The order became effective as of Saturday, July 17, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. and will remain in place until the LACDPH revises, rescinds, or amends it.
To comply with the order, businesses must take the following steps:
- Require all employees to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status
- Require all patrons to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status
- “Post clearly visible and easy to read signage, with or without having an employee present, at all entry points for indoor and outdoor settings to communicate the masking requirements for patrons.”
- Test for COVID-19 at least twice per week all employees “who cannot feasibly wear a mask while performing their work.” According to the LACDPH’s COVID-19 Masks webpage, these individuals include “[w]orkers in situations where a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by a workplace risk assessment,” as well as “[a]nyone instructed not to wear a mask by their medical provider.”
The LACDPH already is receiving some pushback. News organizations are reporting that the sheriff of Los Angeles County announced he would not enforce the order and instead would ask for voluntary compliance.
As of the publication date of this article, no other California counties have mandated the use of face coverings for fully-vaccinated individuals, and the order is more stringent than California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently revised Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). However, some counties, including those in the San Francisco Bay Area, are recommending that “everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places to ensure easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings and as an extra precautionary measure for all.” These counties are doing so because COVID-19 cases are rising locally and because the Delta variant is highly transmissible.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Cal/OSHA ETS. We will post updates on the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center and our California and Workplace Safety and Health blogs. Important information for employers also is available via the firm’s webinar and podcasts programs.