California regulators reverse decision to require workers to wear masks

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California regulators reverse decision to require workers to wear masks

After a controversial workplace mask government sparked outrage from the California business community, state regulators voted Wednesday to reverse that decision.

This rule, from the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, would have allowed workers in almost all settings to only forgo masks in situations where everyone in a room had been vaccinated against COVID 19. If only one person wasn't vaccinated, everyone would have been required to wear a mask.

This contrasted with the revised plan to eradicate virtually all vaccinated people, which more complies with the latest recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The board initially rejected the "mask place" regulation before granting it an advisory in early June, a decision that generated anger from business advocacy groups that said it would put an undue burden on employers.

Wednesday's board meeting was attended by members of the public, workers, industry leaders and employers who expressed their complaints during more than two hours of public comment.

The safety board staff was not specific on what changes they would recommend at its scheduled meeting next week, other than it is likely to try more closely to conform with public health guidelines.

Helen Cleary, Director of the Phylmar Regulatory Roundtable, said the back-and-for on state workplace regulations has created an atmosphere of confusion.

Employers can not plan with this high level of uncertainty, she said in a statement. We are frustrated and disappointed with the confusion, the process, the substance and lack of leadership.

A dozen business associations and organizations representing manufacturers, farmers, tourism interests and other industries wrote a letter to Newsom asking him to rescind the board's regulations ahead of Wednesday night's reversal.

Requiring Masks unless all are vaccinated in a workplace would create yet another barrier to rehiring and reopening at a time when we need to be providing incentives to bring people back, said the women.

The board's Democratic decisions for workplace come as controversial Gov. Gavin Newsom facing a likely recall election, brought about by discontent over his handling of the pandemic.

Before the vote and e-mail, Michael Miller told the board members that the general public doesn't draw a distinction between this board and the rest of the newsom administration.

What they hear is that the Newsom administration says that wearing masks at work may be here to stay, he said.

Business groups also want the board to temporarily remove its proposal to require employers to start offering the most effective N 95 masks for voluntary use by employees who work indoors or at large outdoor events and are not fully vaccinated, starting July 31. They said that it would be costing and converge with the needs of health care workers.

Before the Wednesday vote, Board members emphasized that their temporary rules were revised. The current Board decision to implement the workplace rule before it was supposed to go into effect allows the board to consider change at a meeting next Thursday and potentially reverse these changes before the end of the month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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