Temporary California workplace rules will require that workers are only allowed to remove their masks if every employee in the room with them received coronavirus vaccinations, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards (Cal/OSHA) Board devised and approved the rules Thursday night, The AP reported. At the Thursday meeting, the board initially voted 4 to 3 in rejection of any rule changes, but board chairman David Thomas pointed out that leaving the old rules intact would keep face masks and social distancing requirements for all employees intact, despite the state’s attempt at reopening. The board subsequently voted to change the rules so that all employees in a given room must be vaccinated if they’re to take off their masks, according to The AP.
12 states have met the Biden administration’s goal to vaccinate 70% of adults against Covid-19, CDC data shows:
California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) June 2, 2021
Regulations created by Cal/OSHA are applicable in nearly every workplace across California, whether it’s in retail, manufacturing, or other office places, The AP reported. The measures reportedly apply to all employees who work with other people in a workplace but not those who work remotely. (RELATED: Churches Shake Down California For $2 Million Over COVID-19 Shutdowns)
The new rules will come into effect on June 15, the same day Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom planned to move reopening forward, pending an ample supply of vaccine doses and low hospitalizations. Newsom faces a recall election later this year — at least in part — because of his strict lockdowns. However, Newsom has also alleged that racism is fueling the effort to recall him.
Thomas defended the board’s decision to update the rules. “It’s better than the previous one, because that’s what we’re going back to” had the board not changed the rules, Thomas told The AP. “We don’t want to leave the last one in place when this is better than that.”
However, critics argued that the board could have taken further steps to open up the economy by letting employees take off their masks.
Board member Kate Crawford initially voted no on revising the rules. She claimed the changes should follow updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks or socially distance in most circumstances, The AP reported.
Board member Nola Kennedy, who also voted no, said, “We have to create reasonable and enforceable standards,” according to The AP. “I just don’t think this proposal is there yet.”
CA has the second highest unemployment rate in the country — with only 48% of jobs lost during the pandemic regained. As our small businesses and workers recover from COVID-19 shutdowns, we must work on pro-growth policies that help get CA back to work. https://t.co/3X5FTYTTdG
— Young Kim (@YoungKimCA) May 28, 2021
Others took issue with what they felt were impractical and expensive provisions in the guidance, such as a mandate that employers must stockpile N-95 masks for workers who want them starting July 1.
“Logistically I’m just unclear how a business determines how many, how much,” said Chris Laszcz-Davis, a management representative on the board who voted to reject the revised regulations. “I’m not sure how much we’re buying by recommending N95s. Why not a surgical mask?” Laszcz-Davis reportedly added.
The board’s next meeting is set for June 17, but further revisions could spell a long-winded process and possibly leave new mandates in place until the end of the year, according to The AP.