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Governor Issues Executive Order Revising Cal/OSHA Quarantine Guidance
On December 14, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-84-20 (the “Order”), addressing a number of issues related to COVID-19 and the present public health emergency.
The Order revises the provision in the newly adopted Cal/OSHA regulations requiring that employees quarantine for 14 days following “close contact” exposure, which aligns the Cal/OSHA quarantine standard with that articulated in an updated California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) guidance released in conjunction with the Order.
Cal/OSHA previously required employers to exclude from the workplace any employee who had “close contact” exposure to someone with COVID-19 until the employee quarantined for 14 days following that contact. That requirement, which took effect on November 30, almost immediately came into conflict with more permissive guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) on December 2 and by the CDPH on December 7.
The Order suspends the more restrictive quarantine requirements adopted by Cal/OSHA, bringing the regulation into compliance with the updated December 14 CDPH guidance. As a result, following a “close contact” exposure, an employer must exclude employees from the workplace and an employee may later discontinue quarantine and report back to the workplace after the tenth day following the “close contact” exposure, so long as the employee did not present any symptoms associated with COVID-19 during the quarantine period.
The CDPH guidance further provides that all asymptomatic employees who discontinue the quarantine prior to 14 days must observe the following:
- Adhere strictly to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing face coverings and observing physical distancing; and
- Self-monitor for symptoms associated with COVID-19, and if such symptoms occur, immediately self-isolate, contact the local health department or their health care provider, and seek testing.
Schools should note that the COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California issued by the CDPH on July 17, 2020 (“Framework”), still refers to the 14-day quarantine period. For example, the Framework states that when a student, teacher or staff member has had contact with someone infected with COVID-19, the individual should be sent home and quarantine for 14 days from the last exposure. Further, local health jurisdictions may continue to adhere to the more restrictive 14-day quarantine requirement.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore attorneys are available to assist employers that have any questions about the new Executive Order and CDPH COVID-19 Guidance or the related changes they entail.
 While Cal/OSHA uses the term “COVID-19 exposure”, the CDPH uses the term “close contact”. We elect to use “close contact” because it is more descriptive and less likely to be confused with potential COVID-19 exposures. Nevertheless, both terms – COVID-19 exposure and close contact exposure – mean being within six feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or greater in any 24-hour period within or overlapping with the COVID-19 positive individual’s “infectious period.” The “infectious period” means the following time periods: (1) For persons who develop COVID-19 symptoms: from two (2) days before they first develop symptoms until 10 days after symptoms first appeared, and 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms have improved; or (2) For persons who test positive who never develop COVID-19 symptoms: from two (2) days before until ten days after the specimen for their first (1st) positive test for COVID-19 was collected. For the purpose of this bulletin, we use “close contact” exposure rather than “COVID-19 exposure”.
 8 C.C.R § 3205(c)(10)