San Jose workers brace for new mask rules
In just over a week, the state will lift its mask mandate after nearly a year of indoor face covering requirements. But in some workplaces, employees will still need to cover their faces under new rules adopted this week by the board of directors of the California division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or Cal / OSHA.
Under the new rules, fully vaccinated workers without symptoms of COVID-19 do not need to wear face covers indoors with other fully vaccinated people. But workers are required to wear masks when there are both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in a room.
Things won’t change much for employees at La Dolce Velo, a bicycle store near downtown San Jose. All employees are fully vaccinated and hope to reach customers without a mask as soon as they are allowed to do so.
“Employees have been encouraged to get vaccinated and we need masks to get inside,” worker Andrew Esler told San José Spotlight. “We’ve been tight enough to make sure everyone is doing it. Fortunately, we didn’t have anti-vaccine workers and we got started very quickly.
Cal / OSHA’s orders are still subject to review by the state’s Administrative Law Office, which is expected to approve the rules by June 15.
Masks are not required outdoors for fully immunized workers, unless they are working at outdoor “mega-events” of 10,000 or more people. Outdoor workers who are not fully immunized should wear masks when within six feet of another person.
Cal / OSHA will require physical distancing indoors if workers do not wear N95 masks until July 31. After July 31, physical distancing is no longer required, but employers must offer N95 masks to unvaccinated employees.
Differences between what is allowed at the city, county, state and federal government levels could make it difficult to comply with workplace rules, according to Sarju Naran, lawyer for the Hoge Fenton law firm based in San Jose.
Speaking with businesses during the pandemic, Naran said, the decision-making process for employers can be difficult: Employees who aren’t vaccinated are required to wear masks, which is an instant visual gift that they aren’t. not vaccinated.
“Employers need to do this balancing act. You have to comply with the strictest rules, ”Naran said. “But then there’s the practicality of it. They have a sense of duty to ensure the safety of their employees. It’s not just about what you need to do, but what makes the most sense for a given workplace.
N95 masks have become a point of contention among business owners, with some saying the burden is costly for employers.
“Cal / OSHA is out of step with the rest of the country,” Andrew Sommer, a member of the California Employers COVID-19 Prevention Coalition, said at the meeting.
The seven-member Cal / OSHA board said the measures were temporary and formed a three-member subcommittee after the vote to revise the rules as soon as possible.
Dzung Lam, barista at Crema Coffee, said she was not too worried about the new rules. She said a majority of her colleagues are vaccinated or plan to complete their injections by the time the state fully reopens.
“We were pretty good with the masks. We used to have a ton of listings (social distancing), but we’ve pulled most of them because we’re about to open more, ”Lam told the San José Spotlight. “The customers have been pretty good about it too.”
Dozens of Californians, community leaders and business leaders attended the Cal / OSHA virtual meeting to protest what they believed to be tougher restrictions given the country’s low rate of COVID-19 cases. Status in relation to the start of the pandemic.
About 1,326,179 residents of Santa Clara County aged 12 and older – 77.3% – received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday evening. Approximately 1,125,278 residents aged 12 and over, or 65.6%, have completed their vaccinations. To date, 119,245 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2,153 have died.
“COVID no longer creates the risk that it was a year or six months ago,” Melissa Patack of the Motion Picture Association said during the public comments. “We have made a lot of progress in taming this virus and we ask Cal / OSHA not to place unreasonable job charges.”
At La Dolce Velo, owner Rob Mardell hopes guests won’t take undue risks.
“We just hope that they are respectful to our employees and employers and that they get vaccinated,” Mardell said. “And we expect the same from them.”
He joked, however, that it might be “too much to ask” for some customers.
Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.