LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Cal/OSHA has decided to put off voting on dropping mask and physical distancing rules for fully vaccinated people in the workplace.
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Cal/OSHA’s board met Thursday morning to weigh in on a proposal to align with updated CDC guidelines that say fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most scenarios. But instead of voting to rollback certain COVID-19 guidelines, the head of Cal/OSHA asked the board to put off the vote so the new standards would match up with the state’s target date of June 15 to fully reopen the economy.
The proposal had allowed all workers in a room to remove their masks if they are fully vaccinated and symptom-free. It also required employers to provide unvaccinated workers with N95 masks and COVID testing to those with symptoms, on paid time.
The CDC’s updated guidance on masks caused much confusion when it was announced last week, prompting national retailers like Target, Costco, and Trader Joe’s to drop their face covering requirements. Most retailers and businesses don’t intend on verifying vaccine status.
However, children under the age of 12 are still ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and a portion of the population remains vaccine-hesitant. Critics of the new guidelines include a large union of nurses in California, who say the abrupt end to mask requirements puts workers at risk.READ MORE: Vigil Held To Honor Life Of Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins Killed In Movie Set Shooting
In a break with the CDC – and possibly due to the confusion the new guidelines caused – California is keeping its mask mandate in place until June 15, the same date the state plans to fully reopen its economy if coronavirus case rates continue to stay low.
Before the Cal/OSHA board decided to delay their vote, employers and industry group weighed in on the proposed guidelines. Many expressed support for relaxing the regulations, but others raised concerns, wondering how to follow the CDC’s guidance that only vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks.
“Every day we hear from workers about their fears of going to work and getting the virus and bringing it home to their families,” Eddie Sanchez, who represents the SoCal Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, said during the public comment period. “While we know COVID cases are low, changing the standard now could put workers unknowingly in danger.”
Los Angeles County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in Thursday’s coronavirus response briefing that the county will follow Cal/OSHA’s lead when regulations are updated.MORE NEWS: 'Supercharge' Storm Expected To Bring Heavy Rainfall To Southland
Cal/OSHA’s board must vote on the new proposal on June 3.