As COVID-19 cases continue to decline throughout the West Coast, states plan to release the mask mandates that have been in place since last summer. However, there are still federal guidelines on wearing masks. Along with the changes in mask mandates, California and some municipalities brought back paid sick time requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted mask recommendations for 70 percent of Americans on February 25, 2022. In addition, the CDC created a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.
In areas with high levels, everyone is still required to wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk. These areas include:
- Indoors in K-12 schools and childcare
- Healthcare settings
- State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
- Homeless shelters
- Long-term care settings and adult and senior care facilities
All airports and airlines still require masks to be worn.
Indoor masking requirements for vaccinated people ended on February 15, 2022. The provisions for unvaccinated people expire on March 1.
California supplemental COVID-19 paid sick leave is back again. Passed in February 2022 and made retroactive to January 1, 2022, paid leave will be in force through September 30, 2022. Employers with 26 or more employees must provide paid leave starting February 19, 2022.
California COVID paid sick leave must be provided in two separate 40-hour banks. The first bucket is if a person tests positive for COVID or cares for a person testing positive. The second bank is for instances of quarantine, receiving vaccines, or caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID.
California COVID-19 paid leave must be calculated in the same manner as other forms of paid leave. An employer is not required to pay more than $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate to a covered employee for leave taken by the covered employee. However, the covered employee may utilize other paid leave available to receive what they would typically earn if they reached their cap.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recently published permanent rules requiring COVID-19 vaccination and masking for employees in health care settings and K-12 schools, as well as a permanent rule on indoor masking that applies statewide. But while the rules are ‘permanent’, they are not meant to last forever.
The Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services said it expected an end to masking requirements in the state on March 11, 2022.
Washington’s statewide indoor mask mandate lifts in most places on March 12, including schools and child care facilities.
Starting on March 1, vaccine verification or proof of a negative COVID-19 test will no longer be required for attendance at large events.
Washington state’s COVID-19 paid sick leave for food sector workers will expire at the end of the public health emergency.
Seattle’s COVID-19 paid sick leave for gig workers will also expire at the end of the public health emergency.