UPDATE 6.17.21: As expected, Cal/OSHA regulators decided Thursday to allow fully vaccinated workers to take off their masks while at the workplace, conforming with California’s general state guidelines that took effect on June 15. The newly revised guidelines now align with the California Department of Public Health, which ended most mask rules for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Here are the masking guidelines for workplaces under the new rules:

  • Vaccinated employees are not required to wear masks while indoors, except for the places where California still requires masks to be worn by all people.
  • Unvaccinated employees must still wear face masks in indoor settings.
  • Face masks are not required for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers while outdoors.
  • Employers will need to document who is vaccinated in their workplaces, but they are not required to retain copies of vaccination cards. Instead, they can allow employees to self-attest to full inoculation.
  • Cal/OSHA’s guidelines require approved face coverings, such as N95 masks, to be given to unvaccinated workers who request them rather than have them physically distanced.
  • NOTE: Businesses can choose to be more strict when it comes to masking.

There’s a ton of additional info below:


Woo-hoo! The long-awaited, hotly anticipated June 15th grand reopening arrives today. 

No more color-coded tiers. Or capacity limits. Or not being able to buy a beer at a place that doesn’t also sell food. 

But as with just about every aspect of the COVID-19 crisis, the reopening is laden with caution, and some weirdness. 


Vaccinated people can go mask-free in most indoor settings starting today, aligning with federal guidance. Unvaccinated people must continue wearing masks indoors. ​But how each business manages the nuances within their respective settings comes with complexity, as this morning’s excellent episode of KQED Forum explored. Customers can produce their paper vaccination card for now, although some have already reportedly been forging their own vaccination cards, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta stated last month that his office was already aware of counterfeiters illegally advertising their shot-faking services online.

The state is set to launch an electronic “vaccine verification system” soon. And customers can also “self attest” to having received the vaccine, putting business owners and employees in an obviously tough spot. State, county and local officials continue to deploy a light touch with enforcement and businesses are not required to verify whether patrons are vaccinated. 

However, a private business can decide to continue requiring masks regardless – similar to the “no shoes, no shirt, no service” signs we’ve seen in storefronts for years.

Masks are still required on public transportation and in taxis, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. Masks are also required indoors at K-12 schools, child care facilities and other places where there may be a large number of children who haven’t yet been vaccinated, which includes all children under 12, who aren’t yet eligible.

While 80% of Marin residents 12 and older eligible to receive the vaccine are fully vaccinated, some 22,000 Marin residents are not yet eligible.

The strangeness of the moment is particularly acute when it comes to face coverings for employees. People who are vaccinated should be able to return to work without masks this Thursday, due to a pending executive order from Newsom, with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, updating its rules to match CDC guidance. The executive order will ensure that the change takes effect immediately, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But if even one of your co-workers is unvaccinated, you’ll all have to wear masks, but businesses can eliminate distancing requirements now if they provide unvaccinated workers with N95 masks.

On a related note, the Marin County Board of Supervisors this week approved an ordinance that required businesses with 25 or fewer employees in unincorporated Marin County to provide paid sick leave to employees who miss work because of the pandemic, through Sept. 30, after which a federal tax credit to reimburse businesses for the cost of providing the sick leave will no longer be available, according to the Marin Independent Journal. It’s unclear if other municipalities in Marin will follow suit.

Mega Events

​When it comes to the so-called “mega events,” those characterized by large crowds greater than 5,000 (indoors) and 10,000 (outdoors) attendees – think sporting events and large concerts – they may have either assigned or unassigned seating, and may be either general admission or gated, ticketed and permitted events. For the indoor mega-events, verification of fully vaccinated status or a pre-entry negative test is required of all attendees. For outdoor mega-events, verification of fully vaccinated status or pre-entry negative test result is strongly recommended for all attendees. Attendees who do not verify vaccination status will be asked to wear face coverings. 


For businesses looking to make sure all of their employees are vaccinated, it’s tricky, but not in terms of the law. 

​Businesses are legally allowed to make employees get vaccinated, according to recent guidance from the federal agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They can also offer incentives to do so, as the state has done. Federal laws do not prevent companies from requiring employees to provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination, though they must keep that information confidential. Employers can also distribute information to employees and their family members on the benefits of vaccination, as well as offer incentives to encourage employees to get vaccinated, as long as the incentives are not coercive, according to the New York Times.

If an employee will not get vaccinated because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief, the agency said, he or she may be entitled to an accommodation that does not pose an “undue hardship” on the business. The agency said examples of reasonable accommodation could include asking the unvaccinated worker to wear a face mask, work at a social distance from others, get periodic coronavirus tests or be given the opportunity to work remotely.

But while it is legal to mandate vaccinations, many companies are avoiding the thorny issue, particularly due to the massive labor shortage they we are certainly feeling here in Mill Valley and is being felt nationwide. 

Delta Dread

​Public health experts cite the delta variant — first detected in India and on the rise in the U.K. and the U.S. — as a potential hurdle to truly ending the pandemic in California. Despite Marin’s massive success in vaccination distribution, the reopening will bring in visitors from outside our county and state, and in some states, fewer than a third of residents are fully vaccinated; even a few California counties are well below the state average, according to the Chronicle

“The rest of the world raging on elsewhere is a threat to San Francisco and the United States,” said Dr. Susan Philip, the San Francisco health officer, told the Chronicle. “It is overall a really positive time. Our job in public health is to keep an eye on things.”


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