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CDPH Issues Statewide Mask Mandate Effective December 15, 2021
On December 13, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued updated guidance concerning the use of face coverings. The guidance, which requires that all individuals, regardless of their vaccination status, wear face coverings while in indoor public settings between December 15, 2021 and January 15, 2022, supersedes prior guidance from CDPH on this subject. The guidance recommends, but does not require, that individuals use surgical masks or higher-level respirators.
Employers should review and, as necessary, modify their policies and practices concerning the use of face coverings by employees and members of the public in order to comply with this new guidance.
The new CDPH guidance exempted the following individuals from the face-covering requirement:
- Persons younger than two years old.
- Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.
- Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
The CDPH guidance does not provide exemptions for individuals in other circumstances, such as while eating or drinking. While there may be further clarification on this issue, the guidance does not currently address eating and drinking.
For the operative period, the CDPH guidance supplants the less prescriptive guidance concerning the use of face coverings provided under the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Regulations and requires that employers “provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees [as] required by orders from the CDPH.”
Employers should provide notice of the new face-covering requirement to their employees and employee organizations, if any, by December 15.
LCW attorneys are familiar with the new face covering requirements and the interaction between these requirements and other legal obligations and are available to assist clients with questions related to face coverings.
 See 8 CCR 3205(c)(6)(B).
This Special Bulletin is published for the benefit of the clients of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. The information in this Special Bulletin should not be acted upon without professional advice.