By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Unvaccinated workers will no longer be required to wear a mask in the workplace as of Tuesday under a new executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Under new guidance unveiled by the governor Monday, unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear a mask in many settings as of Tuesday. Late Monday, Gov. Newsom signed an executive order that updates workplace safety rules to align with the new guidance, allowing unvaccinated workers to unmask in the workplace.
State officials, however, still “strongly recommend” that individuals, regardless of vaccination status, continue to wear masks indoors under the new guidance. Additionally, employers can still require workers to wear a mask despite the change in workplace standards, according to a spokesperson for the governor’s office.
Previously, unvaccinated workers were required to wear a mask indoors at the workplace under the existing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) passed by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). Those standards took effect in June 2021 and were again adopted by the board in December. Gov. Newsom’s latest executive order extends the ETS through May 5, giving Cal/OSHA time to review the guidance before considering the next readoption.
The updated workplace standards came after Gov. Newsom announced relaxed masking guidance on Monday, which included an announcement that the state will lift its mask mandate for schools on March 12. Schools will still have the option to enact their own mask requirements, however, and some districts have already announced they will continue to require masking after March 12.
During a news conference Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly explained that the state has seen significant improvement in case rates, hospitalizations and test positivity over the last two weeks. According to the latest data, cases are down 66% over the last two weeks and hospitalizations are down 48%.
“This feels like the right time,” Dr. Ghaly said during a news conference Monday. “There’s data that supports it, both on the transmission and hospital impact side. I’ve been pleased with how the data has come down, and it is the right moment to transition from that [masking] requirement to that strong recommendation.”