COVID UPDATE: NEW ORDER EFFECTIVE JULY 31, 2021
On July 31, 2021, a new Los Angeles County COVID-19 Health Officer Order (“Order”) went into effect. This new Order follows the recent order from July 17th that requires face coverings for everyone while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant, and also incorporates the July 26th State Public Health Officer Order. Below are the highlights:
Face Masks/Coverings. Face masks and coverings are required, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, in all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and public and private businesses. Exceptions to the mask mandate include the following:
- When actively eating or drinking, provided they are seated at a table or positioned at a stationary counter or place;*
- When alone in a separate room, office, or interior space;*
- When showering or performing or receiving personal hygiene or personal care services that cannot be done without removing the face-covering;
- When performing specific tasks which cannot feasibly be performed while wearing a mask;
- Workers in a situation where a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by a workplace risk assessment;
- Children under the age of two; and
- If someone has a disability or has been instructed by their health care provider not to wear a mask, they may wear a non-restrictive alternative such as a clear mask, a cloth mask with a clear plastic panel, or a face shield with a drape that is form-fitting under the chin.
*Important Note: Upon seeking clarification from the LA County Department of Public Health, our firm was informed that all employees working indoors who are not alone in a private office must be masked at all times, even when they are distanced 6 feet apart, except when eating. When eating, employees need to be socially distanced. The only exception to wearing a mask would be for an employee who is alone in the whole space. The Department of Health has also opined that even employees in cubicles who
are socially distanced 6 feet apart must be masked at all times because they are still technically considered to be indoors and are not alone in an office.
The Order also recommends wearing respirators (N95 or KN95) or two masks in indoor settings where there is close contact with other people who may not be vaccinated. Upon request, employers are required to provide unvaccinated employees with the correct-size respirator along with basic instructions on how to use the respirator.
Postings & Notices. Employers must require all employees, patrons, and guests to follow the masking requirements. Businesses must implement measures to clearly communicate to non-employees the masking requirements on their premises. Such communications must include clearly visible and easy-to-read signage at all entry points for indoor and outdoor settings to communicate the masking requirements for patrons and guests.
Reporting Outbreaks. Employers must continue to comply with reporting requirements if the workplace has 3 or more cases of COVID-19 among workers within the span of 14 days to the Department of Public Health via their website or by calling 888-397-3993.
Best Practice Guidance. Employers are strongly urged to follow the LACDPH Best Practice Guidance, available here.
We will continue to monitor the related key developments and keep you posted. Should you need guidance, please contact our office.
Written by: Rebecca Gombos, Esq.