Los Angeles County recently eased the requirements of its mask mandate, in light of decreasing COVID-19 rates.
Officials in late February 2022 updated the order regarding masks, with several items for employers to consider.
Changes to the mask mandate in LA County are effective as of Feb. 25, 2022.
LA County Eases Mask Mandate
The updates for LA County’s indoor mask mandate now allow businesses to voluntarily exempt people from wearing masks, with two options available:
- All fully vaccinated customers, visitors and onsite workers
- Only fully vaccinated customers and visitors (not workers)
Business do have the option of continuing to require employees, customers and visitors to wear masks.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people must continue to wear masks in indoor public settings.
Implementing Mask Mandate Options
The question, of course, then becomes how employers will implement one of the options.
Under the first option, the conditions that must be met include:
- Proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test for all who enter the premises (unless the person is younger than 5)
- A negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test less than two days old or a negative antigen test less than one day old
Employees are asked to review both vaccination cards and identification.
In checking the legitimacy of negative tests, over-the-counter tests are not acceptable. Employees are asked to check IDs and ensure the test-result document is from a test provider or lab.
Under Option 2 — in which workers must remain masked but fully vaccinated visitors and customers can go without a mask — similar conditions must be followed.
Those who cannot show proof of full vaccination or a negative test must continue to wear a mask while indoors, except when actively eating or drinking.
Lastly, employers must provide respirators — N95, KN95, KF94, for example — and allow employees to wear masks if they so choose.
Find the updated Los Angeles County mask mandate information on the department of health’s website. Also, here is the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard regarding COVID-19.
COVID-19 and Employment Law
There are signs that the pandemic is abating. But employers still have to monitor changes and updated guidance across the U.S.
Several jurisdictions still have active COVID-19 paid sick leave laws, including Nevada, whose paid time off just for obtaining the vaccine expires on Dec. 31, 2023 (yes, 2023). Plus, the patchwork of masking rules makes it difficult to maintain compliance.
Additionally, as employees contract COVID-19, there are still requirements to follow in many jurisdictions, and employers will have to determine whether a blanket policy or location-by-location approach makes the most sense.
Employers with locations in Los Angeles County should determine which of the options make sense for them, inform staff about the changes and their requirements, and act accordingly.
The updated LA County mask mandate also notes that this is an “interim step” until the county reaches a moderate rate of transmission. The hope, of course, is that positivity rates and hospitalizations from COVID-19 continue to decline and employers will soon be able to forgo pandemic