California State Masking Order

As of January 5, 2020, California extended its indoor public spaces mask mandate for another month. The extension was in response to an unexpectedly high rate of Coronavirus infections arising from the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus. The following are additional changes for 2022 in response to the continuing pandemic.


If there are cases in the workplace, employers must make FDA-approved COVID tests available to any exposed employees at no cost to the employee during paid time. Those to whom the offer must be made include vaccinated, asymptomatic workers who were exposed.

Self-administered and self-read tests are no longer acceptable under the rule. In other words, your employees can’t just take a test at home alone. Tests:

  • processed by a lab
  • overseen by a medical professional during a telehealth appointment
  • administered and observed by medical professionals or an employer are all still okay.

When to Send People Home

In the original rule, if a fully vaccinated person had close contact with a COVID-positive person but didn’t show symptoms, that person didn’t need to be sent home from work. Under the new rules passed by Cal/OSHA on December 15, vaccinated asymptomatic people would have had to be sent home unless they wore a mask and maintained 6 feet of distance from others for two weeks.

However, before that December rule became effective, the California Department of Public Health issued guidance in January that overrode the December rules. Under that guidance:

Persons who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, previous illness, or lack of symptoms, must:

  • Stay home for at least five days, unless symptoms are present
  • If unable to test or refusing to test and asymptomatic, stay home for ten days
  • If fever present, stay home till fever resolves
  • If symptoms other than fever continue, stay home until symptoms resolve or until after day ten
  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for ten days

Persons who are exposed, whether unvaccinated or vaccinated and booster-eligible but have not yet received booster, must:

  • Stay home for at least five days after the last contact
  • Test on day five
  • Quarantine can end after five days if there are no symptoms, and a specimen collected on day five
  • If no test and asymptomatic, quarantine can end at ten days
  • Wear a well-fitting mask
  • Get vaccinated or booster

In the workplace, asymptomatic employers are not required to stay home if:

  • A negative diagnostic test is taken within three to five days after the last exposure
  • Employee wears a well-fitting mask around others for a total of ten days
  • Employee remains asymptomatic

Exposed Persons Guidance

The state recommends that exposed persons, regardless of quarantine status, consider testing as soon as possible and, if showing symptoms, should also self-isolate and test as soon as possible.

Contact a Mountain View Employment Law Attorney

If you are uncertain about the compliance status of your COVID-19 program, contact us today for assistance in fine-tuning your program.

- Claire Kalia


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