Cal/OSHA revises COVID-19 workplace restrictions

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees will be prohibited from the workplace if they come in close contact with someone infected with the virus, according to the governmental agency

Cal/OSHA revises COVID-19 workplace restrictions

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health of California (Cal/OSHA) has made changes to the state’s COVID-19 pandemic regulations for 2022.

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees will be prohibited from the workplace if they come in close contact with someone infected with the virus, effective Jan. 14, 2022, The Associated Press reported. As of right now, the regulations will last for three months, but that’s subject to change depending on the spread of the coronavirus.

Currently, vaccinated employees are allowed to keep working even if they’ve been exposed, unless they show symptoms. The revised temporary rules require that exposed workers who are vaccinated, but asymptomatic, stay home for 14 days even if they test negative, or return to work but wear masks and stay 6 feet from others for two weeks.

The regulation changes come one day after California reinstated an indoor mask mandate in response to the state’s per capita rate of new COVID-19 cases rising 47% in the past two weeks.

“The Golden State” has also tightened restrictions on unvaccinated people who attend indoor events of 1,000 people or more. They’re now required to show proof of an antigen test within the previous 24 hours or a PCR test within the past 48 hours. Previously, the rule allowed any test within the past 72 hours. California is also recommending travelers who visit or return to the state get tested within five days of their arrival.

Read more: Vaccine mandate’s legal limbo means employers should ‘proceed with caution’

Gov. Gavin Newsom has previously issued other COVID-19 mandates, such as requiring state employees, health care workers and public school students and teachers to be vaccinated. Unlike President Joe Biden, whose similar nationwide mandates have been blocked by federal courts, Newsom can enact his because California is still operating under an emergency declaration issued at the beginning of the pandemic. Until either Newsom lifts it or the state Legislature votes to end it, the emergency declaration will remain in place.

Earlier this week, a judge denied the Los Angeles Police Department union’s request for a preliminary injunction against the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for municipal employees. In his tentative ruling, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff said the balancing of harms weighed in favor of protecting the health of the public and the city's workforce over considerations for any pending labor issues, The Los Angeles Daily News reported. As a result, Beckloff will take the case under submission, insisting on studying the issues further.

According to a report by the City Administrative Officer of Los Angeles, employees have to get tested during their free time, and testing has to be conducted “by the city or a vendor ... of the city's choosing.” Employees who receive a vaccination exemption are required to test with Bluestone once a week, but those tests will be paid for by the city and be allowed during paid time.

In November, Beckloff denied the union's request for a temporary restraining order.

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