Newsom Signs Executive Order Modifying CalOSHA’s Emergency Temporary COVID-19 Regulations

On December 14, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-84-20 which, among other things, modified CalOSHA’s emergency COVID-19 regulations.


On November 30, 2020, CalOSHA’s emergency temporary regulations concerning COVID-19 prevention in places of employment (ETS) went into effect.  Among other requirements, the ETS directed employers to exclude from the workplace for 14 days those employees who have been exposed to COVID-19, reflecting the then-current guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19.

However, on December 14, 2020, the CDPH published updated COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance that sets forth new directives, based upon updated CDC guidelines, for when employees exposed to COVID-19 who are asymptomatic may discontinue quarantine.  According to the CDPH’s updated COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance, the following timelines are applicable for quarantine for exposed employees:

  • All asymptomatic close contacts (within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) may discontinue quarantine after Day 10 from the date of last exposure with or without testing.
  • During critical staffing shortages when there are not enough staff to provide safe patient care, essential critical infrastructure workers in the following categories are not prohibited from returning after Day 7 from the date of last exposure if they have received a negative PCR test result from a specimen collected after Day 5:
    • 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.
  • All exposed asymptomatic contacts permitted to reduce the quarantine period to less than 14 days must:
    • Adhere strictly to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing face coverings at all times, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others, and the interventions required below, through Day 14.
    • Use surgical face masks at all times during work for those returning after Day 7 and continue to use face coverings when outside the home through Day 14 after last exposure.
    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms through Day 14 and if symptoms occur, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health department or healthcare provider and seek testing.

Relevant Provisions of the Executive Order.

Because the public health recommendations and the requirements of the ETS should be consistent in order to protect public health, the Executive Order suspended (replaced) the quarantine/return to work periods for asymptomatic individuals as specified in the ETS with those contained in the CDPH’s COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance, or any applicable quarantine or isolation period recommended or ordered by a local health officer. However, the Executive Order expressly states that the suspension (replacement) shall not apply where an employer prevents a worker who returns to work earlier than permitted under the ETS from satisfying any of the conditions [upon return] specified by the CDPH or a local health officer.

Finally, the Executive Order directs Cal/OSHA to promptly provide public notice if it changes the quarantine or return to work periods in the emergency COVID-19 regulations.

A copy of the Executive Order can be obtained here.