The LA County Department of Public Health has just released a Health Officer Order mandating that all persons wear masks indoors - regardless of their vaccination status. The new mask requirement takes effect tomorrow, Saturday July 17, at midnight. It applies to all businesses and public places in Los Angeles County.

The Order applies to all employees who work in LA County, and requires employees, visitors, and customers to wear masks indoors. The Order applies to all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and businesses, including offices, retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings and government offices.

For employees, this new mask mandate applies even though Cal/OSHA's June 17, 2021 Emergency Temporary Standard allowed fully vaccinated employees to forgo masks while indoors. The LA DPH Order requires employers to comply with both the ETS and the stricter requirements of the new Order.

Employees are required to wear masks while working indoors in any setting, with only the limited exception noted below for tasks that cannot feasibly be completed while wearing a mask.

With respect to patrons and non-employee site visitors, the Order requires businesses and venue operators to require all patrons to wear masks for all indoor settings, again without regard to their vaccination status. Businesses also must post signage at all entry points to communicate the masking requirements for patrons.

For "Outdoor Mega Events," employees and all other persons at the event or venue must wear face masks while in any indoor setting at the event, and in any areas where 50% of the structure has adjacent impermeable walls, such as concourses and concession stands. For "Indoor Mega Events," all attendees must wear masks.

The Order contains the now standard exceptions to the face mask requirements for persons who cannot safely wear masks: LAC | DPH | Wear a Mask to protect yourself from COVID-19 (lacounty.gov)

  • Children under age 2. Most children ages 2 to 8 can safely wear a mask with adult supervision.
  • People who are cannot safely wear a mask, such as someone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or who is unable to remove a mask without help.
  • Workers in situations where a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by a workplace risk assessment.
  • Anyone instructed not to wear a mask by their medical provider. If their job involves regular contact with others, they must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape that is form fitting under the chin (see Face Shields), as long as their medical condition permits it.

Note that for employees who cannot safely don masks, the ETS imposes additional requirements for alternatives, such as face shields with sealing drapes.

The only employee exception in the Order itself is that certain employees may be exempt from wearing a mask when performing specific tasks which cannot feasibly be performed while wearing a mask. This exception is limited to the period of time in which such tasks are actually being performed. And workers who cannot feasibly wear a mask while performing their work must be tested for COVID-19 at least twice a week, unless the employer receives proof of the employee's full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of recovery from a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the prior 90 days.

The Order doesn't address the circumstances in which talent or artists can perform without masks.

Finally, the Order recommends, but does not require, that individuals consider wearing a higher level of protection, such as wearing two masks or wearing a respirator (KN95 or N95) in indoor settings where there is close contact with other people who may not be fully vaccinated, and in crowded indoor and outdoor settings.