Workplace regulators in California will reconsider conflicting camouflage rules designed to protect employees against the coronavirus – requirements that would make it harder for businesses to do business when the state fully opens its economy next week. A “special meeting” of the California Council on Occupational Safety and Health Standards was scheduled for Wednesday after State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Aragon sent a letter to the commission reiterating the state’s plans to follow federal guidelines from next Tuesday. Aragon said the state would remove virtually all social distancing requirements and abolish the mask requirement for people who have been vaccinated, while “requiring face coverage for all unvaccinated people in closed public facilities and businesses.”
Workplace regulators in California will reconsider conflicting camouflage rules designed to protect employees against the coronavirus – requirements that would make it harder for businesses to do business when the state fully opens its economy next week.
A “special meeting” of the California Council on Occupational Safety and Health Standards was scheduled for Wednesday after State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Aragon sent a letter to the commission reiterating the state’s plans to follow federal guidelines from next Tuesday.
Aragon said the state would remove virtually all requirements for social distancing and abolish the mask requirement for people who have been vaccinated, while “requiring face coverage for all unvaccinated people in indoor and outdoor businesses.”
This policy contradicts last week’s vote on the board to allow workers to remain without masks only if every employee in a room is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The board will consider Aragon’s letter “and take action if appropriate,” said board spokeswoman Erica Monterosa.
Meanwhile, a dozen business groups, including the California Retailers Association and organizations representing producers, farmers, tourism interests and other industries, sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsum asking him to immediately issue an order to repeal the board’s regulations called “Interim Standards for Emergencies (ETS)) and bringing jobs into the state in line with federal guidelines.
Without such action, the groups said the country’s economy would not fully open next week, Newsom said.
“Businesses will not bring employees back with the level of confusion and uncertainty created by the ETS and the mixed messages coming from state and local leaders,” the letter said.
The groups called the board’s regulations “expensive obligations for businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses, which may not have the legal expertise to navigate the confusing and contradictory statements and regulations coming from different levels of government”.
Newsom was asked last Friday if it would issue such an order, and it said it was reluctant.
On Tuesday, the Newsom office reiterated its statement last week: that the administration hopes the board will review its guidelines to reflect the latest scientific data, while continuing to protect workers and balance realistic and feasible requirements for employers.
Regulations on board Cal / OSHA apply to almost every workplace in the state, including office, factory and retail workers.
Its pandemic rules apply to all employees except those working from home or when there is a single employee who has no contact with other people.
The council at Wednesday’s meeting could withdraw the new rules it adopted less than a week ago, as they have not yet entered into force, Monteroza said.
But this will at least temporarily leave in place the existing emergency rules, which are even stricter, requiring all workers to be distanced and masked, even if vaccinated.
The board cannot accept new changes without publishing the proposed revisions and notifying the public of at least five calendar days, she said. This potentially creates additional public comments and action at the regular board meeting on 17 June.
The decision of the board’s rules put Newsom in an awkward position as the country nears its promised full opening and as it faces elections to recall in the fall.
The withdrawal was prompted by criticism of Newsom’s restrictions on business and personal activities during the pandemic. His Republican opponents took advantage of the regulations in the workplace as proof that the Newsom administration continues to rule with too heavy a hand.
Carl DeMayo, a former San Diego city councilor seeking Newsom’s withdrawal, sent an email to supporters on Tuesday, stressing an “absurd new term of office” that “is not only inconvenient for workers, but this anti-science policy imposes significant costs on small business and opens them to expensive frivolous lawsuits. “
In a letter to Newsom, the business groups said the requirement for masks, unless everyone is vaccinated in the workplace, would “create another barrier to re-employment and renewal” at a time when “we need to provide incentives for people to return”. .
The organizations also said that requiring masks for people who have been fully vaccinated may lead the public to believe that the vaccine is not really effective.
“Now, more than ever, the state must take the side of science and show residents – both customers and employees – that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and necessary,” the letter said.
The members of the Cal / OSHA board made it clear when they adopted the measures that the regulations were temporary, and they appointed a subcommittee to continue working on the audits.
The board said it would hear briefings from the State Department of Public Health and the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health at Wednesday’s meeting before reviewing the “impact of the information provided” on the new rules.
Separately, the State Department of Health recommends that workers who have not been vaccinated be tested once or twice a week, depending on the type of test, if they come into close or frequent contact with the public.
This includes, for example, those working in restaurants, public transport, theaters, amusement parks and other areas.
It should also apply to those areas with higher levels of virus transmission, the agency said, and to high-density jobs where physical distancing is difficult, such as factories or food processing plants.