Just two weeks ago, we detailed the readopted Cal/OSHA rules on quarantining in the event of a COVID-19 case or exposure. Now, the CDC and the CA Department of Public Health (CDPH) have weighed in. Most notably, the CDPH guidelines and Cal/OSHA guidelines conflict on quarantine guidelines for “fully vaccinated close contacts” to a COVID-19 case.

Cal/OSHA does not require a booster to be considered “fully vaccinated” and provides that fully vaccinated close contacts do NOT need to be excluded from the workplace if they are asymptomatic. However, if they report to the workplace, they are now required to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing for 14 days following the close contact.

However, new CDPH guidelines differentiate between fully vaccinated people who are boosted (if eligible) and fully vaccinated people who are not boosted (if eligible). In short, fully vaccinated and boosted individuals do not have to quarantine if asymptomatic, but should test on day 5 after exposure.

CDPH guidelines now require fully vaccinated but non-boosted individuals with a close contact to a COVID-19 case to quarantine for 5 days with a test on day 5. If unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present, quarantine can end after day 10. This not only creates a discrepancy between quarantine rules but will also impact the ability of many workplaces to operate, given the high number of close contacts and relatively low number of boosted workers.

While the CDPH guidelines refer to Cal/OSHA for rules governing the workplace, it doesn’t seem to make sense that a fully vaccinated but not boosted individual could go to work after a close contact but is otherwise required to quarantine under state guidelines. Accordingly, we recommend complying with the new, more-stringent CDPH standard until we hear otherwise. Of course, in order to comply with the CDPH guidelines, employers need to know if employees have been boosted, if eligible. Just when we thought 2022 would give us a reprieve from new rules and recordkeeping…

Under Cal/OSHA, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees who have had a close contact with a COVID-19 case must still quarantine and be excluded from the workplace. However, instead of the previously required 10-day quarantine,  there’s the potential for a 7-day quarantine if the employee tests negative for COVID-19 on day 5 or after, and the employee adheres to the face covering and social distancing requirement until day 14. So even though CDPH and CDC now provide for a 5-day quarantine, the Cal/OSHA more stringent standards should prevail in the workplace.

Stay tuned and hopefully Cal/OSHA will clarify these new discrepancies. Wishing you all the best for a happy and safe new year!