Proposal to end California COVID workplace guidelines and mask requirement by August

SAN FRANCISCO -- In just months, California could end workplace social distancing and mask requirements as part of newly proposed workplace safety rules being considered by the state.

"Right now at work you need to provide masks, you have to provide plastic dividers in place and if there are any incidents of COVID you have to allow for quarantine or workers to go home," said California Assemblymember Ash Kalra.

The proposal would need to be approved by California's Occupational Safety & Health Standard Board. The board is expected to meet on May 20. If approved, the new rules would begin by August 1.

As part of this proposal, workers won't have to physically distance themselves from others in the workplace.

"The proposed revisions remove face-covering requirements for fully vaccinated persons outdoors and indoors where everyone is fully vaccinated," said CAL-OSHA in an email to ABC7 News.

Starting July 31, employers will need to provide free COVID-19 testing to employees with COVID symptoms.

"If you are a vaccinated employee and you are exposed you will not need to quarantine," said Emily Abraham, Interim Director of Public Policy for the SF Chamber of Commerce. "You won't have to be excluded from work."

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Abraham believes these changes could lead to the implementation of a "vaccine passport."

"I do envision a scenario where there is a kind of vaccine passport. Everyone is going to have a laminated version of their vaccine card to get in places. It might become more regular to ask if you've been vaccinated or not," said Abraham.

Larry Gadea, CEO and founder of Envoy held an internal survey to understand how his employees feel about coming back to the office.

"We're looking at going back in about 2 weeks from today," Gadea explained. "We are looking at being hybrid for the majority of the beginning. For the next few I would guess months. At lot of people are not ready and you don't want to force people in a situation that they are not comfortable in. So, were opening up first for the people that want to be there."

Assemblymember Kalra, who is the Chair of the state's labor and employment committee, said employees will not be required to show proof of vaccination.

"No, there is no requirement to force the employees to show proof," Kalra added. "That is where there is going to be some challenges."

Assemblymember Kalra believes this change is positive, but his concern are restaurant workers and those in direct contact with the public.

"That is very challenging. It's voluntary, so workers can still opt to wear a mask because you have customers coming in and you don't know what their status is in terms of being vaccinated or not," Assemblymember Kalra said.


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