Once an employee is vaccinated, do they need to continue to wear face coverings and engage in other infection control measures?

While earlier versions of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) and the California Department of Public Health guidance and orders took vaccination status into account and created some exceptions for vaccinated individuals, current rules and guidance tend to apply regardless of vaccination status.

The third revision of the ETS, effective May 6, 2022, removed the definition of “fully vaccinated” from the standard because ETS rules no longer hinge on vaccination status.

As for face coverings, the ETS doesn’t have a general indoor face covering requirement, but there are a handful of instances in which the ETS requires face coverings to be worn, such as when employers conduct indoor COVID-19 screening, during COVID-19 outbreaks and COVID-19 cases that return to work must wear face coverings for 10 days after the onset of their symptoms or the date of their first positive test. These rules all apply regardless of vaccination status.

Additionally, the ETS requires employers to provide face coverings and ensure they are properly worn when required by the CDPH.

At the time of publication, the CDPH highly recommends, but does not require, indoor face coverings in most settings, regardless of vaccination status. CDPH does require face coverings in specific settings, also regardless of vaccination status, including:

  • Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers.
  • Health care settings.
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers.
  • Homeless shelters.
  • Long term care settings and adult and senior care facilities.

Local jurisdictions may institute health orders with universal indoor face covering requirements beyond what is required by the ETS. Employers should continue to monitor state and local rules in addition to Cal/OSHA’s ETS.  

To read more about the state’s face covering guidance, employers can review the following:

For more information on Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS, review the following guidance:

Read more about IIPP and COVID-19 in the HR Library.

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