On December 13, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a mandate that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in all indoor public settings from December 15, 2021 through January 15, 2022.
Neither the CDPH nor the State has provided a clear definition of what constitutes an indoor public setting. Although residential community common areas are not open to the general public, they are areas where multiple households may gather. Based on previous health orders and what we understand as the intent of this order, the governor likely intended this order to apply to common areas.
This mandate was imposed due to a significant statewide increase in COVID-19 case rates and related hospitalizations since Thanksgiving.
The only exemptions to this mandate are:
- Persons under two years of age;
- Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask;
- Persons who are hearing impaired or who are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; and
- Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to themselves related to their work as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
Some counties, such as Los Angeles County, Ventura County and most of the San Francisco Bay Area, already have their own indoor mask mandates, which have no end dates. Other counties may soon follow and issue their own mandates concerning wearing masks that may also extend beyond the January 15, 2022 end date.
In workplaces, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.
If your association has questions concerning the use of face masks within the community in light of the State’s updated guidance, please contact your association’s legal counsel.