On December 14, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-84-20, addressing a number of issues in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including updating the recently implemented California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) emergency temporary standard to align with new California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance as it relates to quarantine guidelines. The new CDPH COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance also issued on December 14, 2020, shortens the quarantine period for asymptomatic close contacts from 14 days to 10 days, with or without testing.
Per the executive order, the period that an asymptomatic close contact can be excluded from the workplace under the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard will be the longer of:
- Any applicable quarantine or isolation period recommended by the CDPH (which is currently 10 days, according the new December 14, 2020, guidance); or
- Any applicable quarantine or isolation period recommended or ordered by a local health officer.
Sections 3205(c)(10) and (11) of the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard are suspended to the extent those time periods are longer than CDPH or local health guidance. It’s important to note that if a local health officer has recommended a quarantine or isolation period longer than the period recommended by the CDPH, employers must follow the longer period.
The CDPH’s COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance also allows certain essential critical infrastructure workers to return to work after Day 7 from the date of last exposure if they have received a negative polymerise chain reaction (PCR) test result, a common type of COVID-19 test, from a specimen collected after Day 5, and only during critical staffing shortages when there are not enough staff to provide safe patient care. This shortened time period is only applicable to:
- Exposed asymptomatic health care workers; and
- Exposed asymptomatic emergency response and social service workers who work face to face with clients in the child welfare system or in assisted living facilities.
The guidance also reminds all asymptomatic contacts returning to work prior to the passing of 14 days to continue to strictly adhere to all safety guidelines through Day 14 (physical distancing, face coverings), including self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, and to immediately self-isolate if any symptoms occur.
As a reminder, the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard went into effect on November 30, 2020, and employers should familiarize themselves with the regulation’s extensive requirements and monitor the corresponding Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Frequently Asked Questions for any updated guidance. Employers should also continuously monitor the CDPH for applicable COVID-19 guidance, as well as their local health departments.
Executive Order N-84-20 also extends the availability of housing for migrant agricultural workers housed by migrant farm labor centers managed by the Department of Housing and Community Development, and allows for a 90-day extension for tax returns and tax payments for all businesses filing a return for less than $1 million in taxes amongst other provisions.
Bianca Saad, Employment Law Counsel/Subject Matter Expert, CalChamber
For more COVID-19-related federal, state and local resources, visit the CalChamber Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage and access additional COVID-19-related HRWatchdog blogs.