California Indoor Mask Mandate Update
Effective Today, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will no longer require vaccinated individuals to wear masks in all indoor public settings under its updated Guidance for the Use of Face Masks (Updated Guidance). This effectively lifts the indoor mask mandate in most California counties, both where local officials have aligned with CDPH Guidance, and where officials never issued their own local mask mandate.
However, there are still a number of targeted mask requirements in place across California. The Updated Guidance only provides a statewide floor for mask or face covering requirements, which local authorities can choose to exceed. Mendocino, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara counties have chosen to retain their indoor mask mandates. Vaccinated individuals in those counties will still be required to wear masks indoors after February 16. The CDPH Guidance also follows federal rules requiring masks on public transportation and in transportation facilities. Finally, the Updated Guidance also continues to require masks in the following specific indoor circumstances:
- Health care settings
- High-risk congregational settings, including homeless shelters, correction facilities, and nursing homes
- K-12 schools.
CDPH still requires unvaccinated individuals to wear masks in all public indoor settings. Proprietors, including local government agencies, can enforce this requirement by any of the following:
- Providing information about the unvaccinated mask requirement and allowing self-attestation of vaccination status,
- Implementing vaccine verification systems, or
- Requiring all patrons to wear masks.
CDPH's Updated Guidance will impact state and local government agencies. Agencies outside of Mendocino, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara counties will need to establish their own face-covering requirements if the agency wants to require masks for vaccinated individuals in facilities or at public meetings. All agencies across the state will still need to use one of the three methods listed above to require that unvaccinated individuals wear masks indoors.
CDPH's Updated Guidance does not directly impact the ability of agencies to hold public meetings via emergency teleconference pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 361. AB 361 allows California agencies to hold meetings under relaxed teleconference rules when
- The Governor has declared a State of Emergency, and either
- State or local officials recommend or impose social distancing measures, or
- The agency finds that meeting in person would threaten the safety of meeting attendees.
The State of Emergency declared by Governor Newsom in March 2020 remains in effect. CDPH's Updated Guidance does not impose or recommend social distancing. Nor does it lift existing rules and recommendations.
Hanson Bridgett attorneys are ready to assist you and your agency comply with the Updated Guidance and navigate the challenges of holding public meetings via emergency teleconference.
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