Without any fanfare, Cal/OSHA updated its FAQs for the emergency temporary standards (ETS) on September 21, 2021, to incorporate new guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Importantly, the CDPH has relaxed its quarantine recommendations for unvaccinated, asymptomatic workers.  The ETS, which governs most workplaces in California, requires a 10-day quarantine period in most circumstances.  The recent guidance from the CDPH provides an even shorter quarantine option for asymptomatic unvaccinated employees.  Specifically,  asymptomatic unvaccinated employees may now end their quarantine either 10 days after exposure or 7 days after exposure if they test negative.  However, the diagnostic specimen has to be collected at least 5 days from the date of exposure to take advantage of this guidance.

In its FAQs, Cal/OSHA acknowledged that it is required by Executive Order N-84-20 to defer to CDPH’s quarantine lengths if they are shorter than the exclusion requirements in the ETS.  However, Cal/OSHA also noted, if an employer prevents an employee from complying with the shorter quarantine conditions recommended by the CDPH, then the longer quarantine requirements in the ETS will apply.  Additional highlights from the new CDPH guidance are below.

Isolation for Individuals who Test Positive

The CDPH recommends a symptom-based strategy for determining the duration of isolation for people with COVID-19 who are symptomatic. Under this strategy, persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were instructed to care for themselves at home may discontinue self-isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset; AND
  • At least 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; AND
  • Other symptoms have improved.

For persons with COVID-19 who do not have any symptoms, the CDPH recommends they self-isolate at least 10 days from the date of the first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test.  If they develop symptoms during this time, the standard for symptomatic individuals above will apply instead.

Quarantine for Unvaccinated Persons

The CDPH recommends that unvaccinated persons who have had close contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 get tested and self-quarantine. Close contacts that remain asymptomatic may discontinue self-quarantine under the following conditions:

  • Quarantine can end after Day 10 from the date of last exposure without testing, OR
  • Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen is collected on day 5 or later from the date of exposure and the test is negative.

In addition to the conditions above, during the 14 days after exposure, the close contact should continue monitoring their symptoms, wear a mask when around others, wash their hands, avoid groups, and stay at least 6 feet from others. If the person develops symptoms within 14 days of exposure, they should self-isolate immediately and get tested.

Quarantine for Vaccinated Persons

Under the CDPH guidance, the exposed person does not have to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated before the exposure and have not developed symptoms. Similarly, if an exposed person tested positive for COVID-19 before their recent exposure and (1) it has been less than 3 months since they started having symptoms from their prior infection and (2) they have not had any new symptoms, they do not need to quarantine.

Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor changes in COVID-19 guidance and regulations in the workplace. If you have questions about the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards or related workplace safety issues, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you often work or any member of our Workplace Safety and Health Team.

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Photo of Sean Paisan Sean Paisan

Sean Paisan is of counsel in the Orange County, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is the leader of the firm’s Cal/OSHA practice subgroup and co-leader of the firm’s Construction industry group. His practice focuses on assisting employers with Cal/OSHA compliance, investigations…

Sean Paisan is of counsel in the Orange County, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is the leader of the firm’s Cal/OSHA practice subgroup and co-leader of the firm’s Construction industry group. His practice focuses on assisting employers with Cal/OSHA compliance, investigations, and fighting citations. Additionally, Sean also assists employers in data privacy and traditional employment matters, including litigation and counseling.

Sean’s first exposure to OSHA regulations occurred during his undergraduate studies while working for a construction company that helped build Disney’s California Adventure. After attending law school and working for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office, Sean moved into private practice, where he focused on general liability matters, including serious injuries and fatalities. Through this experience, Sean became very knowledgeable on the myriad of Cal/OSHA regulations imposed on businesses, especially in the construction, manufacturing, and healthcare industries, and the consequences for violations of those regulations. From there, Sean became OSHA 30 certified and began assisting employers with all workplace safety matters, from compliance, to investigations and inspections, to the appeals of citations in California, Arizona, Washington, and Hawaii.

Throughout his career, Sean has been called upon to try cases that cannot be settled. He has handled trials in the United States District Court, California Superior Court, Cal/OSHA Appeals Board, Workers Compensation Appeals Board, and the US Department of Labor OALJ, as well as binding arbitrations. Sean has tried cases involving the following subjects: general employment, wrongful death, premises liability, unfair competition (B&P § 17200), false advertising (Lanham Act), misappropriation of trade secret, restrictive covenants, and whistleblower (AIR21).

In addition to his trial experience, he is routinely called on to assist his clients with workplace crises such as catastrophic injuries, fatalities, data breaches, and ransomware incidents. Drawing on his years of in both civil and criminal law, Sean’s unique background allows him to anticipate and proactively manage issues, rather than simply reacting to requests and inquiries by investigating agencies such as law enforcement, OSHA, Cal/OSHA, California Bureau of Investigations (BOI), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as well as opposing counsel in litigation matters.

In addition to his litigation experience, Sean has earned the CIPP/US credential through the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). He helps organizations manage rapidly evolving privacy threats and mitigate the potential loss and misuse of information assets. He has an in-depth understanding of how privacy laws can impact business operations. These laws include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act), Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, California Financial Information Privacy Act, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Telemarketing Sales Rule, Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Junk Fax Prevention Act, Controlling Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), Cable Communications Policy Act, Video Privacy Protection Act, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). With respect to laws affecting the ability of the government to obtain information, Sean can assist employers in understanding their obligations under the Federal Wiretap Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), Right to Financial Privacy Act, Privacy Protection Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and USA PATRIOT Act.

Before becoming an attorney, Sean earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Southern California, where he also played varsity ice hockey in the ACHA. When not practicing law, Sean enjoys spending time with his wife and three young children, playing adult league ice hockey, mountain biking, and motorsports.