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Cal/OSHA set to revise decisions on mask wearing mandate

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Posted at 10:25 PM, Jun 09, 2021

We’re less than a week away from California’s full reopening, but rules about mask-wearing in the workplace are still being discussed.

In a special meeting on Wednesday, Cal/OSHA said they’re set to again reconsider masking rules designed to protect those in the workplace.

The California Safety Board meeting was scheduled for Wednesday after state health officer Dr. Tomas Aragon sent a letter to the panel reiterating the state’s plans to follow federal guidelines starting next Tuesday. But as of now, the COVID-19 emergency temporary standards are the same as before.

“This isn’t brand new guidance. Last time we updated our guidance was May 3rd,” Dr. Aragon said during Wednesday’s meeting.

Last week, Cal/OSHA said employees would still have to wear a mask at work unless everyone in the room was vaccinated.

Co-owner of The Polishery, Tung Le, says revisions to mask guidelines are causing confusion.

“We just don’t know what to do,” said Le.

As of now, state health officials say masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals except in certain situations. Settings where masks are required for everyone are public transit, indoors in K-12 school and youth settings, healthcare settings, state and local correctional facilities and emergency shelters.

“No one’s going to know anybody else’s vaccine status. And yeah, the simplest thing to implement is everyone wear a mask,” said Dr. Aragon.

Dr. Aragon says business and venue operators may also choose to implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.

“There’s no way to check [if you’re vaccinated] one by one. So we’re just hoping that people are being honest,” said Le.

Le says once the state makes new rules official, they’re going to make mask wearing for the vaccinated optional.

“We want the people to wear a mask with the workers, still optional, but I would encourage them to wear their mask,” said Le.

These rules have not yet become effective. Cal/OSHA is still reviewing the letter Dr. Aragon sent and will bring recommended revisions to the board during the next meeting on June 17th, which is after Governor Gavin Newsom’s anticipated date for California’s reopening on June 15.