June 04, 2021 - 4 min read
The big reveal: mask mandates set to lift in California (with some exceptions)
Helping businesses sort through the latest face covering guidelines
California is preparing to fully reopen its economy when, on June 15, capacity and distancing restrictions lift for many businesses and activities and fully vaccinated people won’t need to wear masks in most places. That’s the simplest version, at least. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) released guidelines permitting fully vaccinated individuals to forego their masks and return to pre-pandemic practices in most settings – public transportation being one notable exception. California became one of several states to opt out of the CDC’s recommendations in favor of keeping state mask mandates until June 15.
Lifting mask restrictions signals a return to a long-awaited sense of normalcy, however, it poses unique challenges for businesses as it won’t be clear who is and is not fully vaccinated. Employers will need to determine the best path forward to keep their employees, partners, and customers safe.
Once mask mandates and social distancing rules end, private businesses can choose to keep restrictions in place. While state and federal restrictions may lift, individual counties in California will be able to keep, or reinstate, COVID-19 restrictions on a situational basis – influenced by factors like vaccine supplies and available hospital beds.
As restrictions loosen, employers in the state are still subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), meaning, businesses must ensure employees follow the department’s most current ETS face
covering and testing requirements.
California’s reopening policies have limited exceptions for Mega Events (conferences, conventions, expos, and sporting events) where large, diverse groups gather for extended periods of time – through October 1, at least. Either vaccine verification or negative tests are required for indoor events and recommended for outdoor ones.
How to stay informed
This ‘Beyond the Blueprint for Industry and Business Sectors’ page from the California Department of Public health (CDPH) is a go-to source for reopening guidance and includes recommendations on when to enforce face coverings. Along with reopening information for businesses and individuals, the page includes links to CDHP’s for travel advisories, guidance for face coverings, and recommendations
for fully vaccinated people.
Blue Shield of California’s employers and brokers can stay up to date with the latest COVID-19 and health related news through our News Center and our dedicated Return to the Workplace resources – up to June 15 and beyond.
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