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Posts, COVID-19|January 05, 2022

California Aligns with CDC’s 5 Day Quarantine Time (But There’s a Catch)

By Diana Dix
Human Resources Risk Advisor SPHR, SHRBP, HCS

On December 30th the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released updated guidance aligning to the new CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine period with additional measures. The additional requirements include testing to exit isolation or quarantine at day 5 and improved masking.

New Isolation and Quarantine Guidance for the general public:

The CDPH guidance states that, during the days following isolation or exposure when masks are worn, all persons should optimize mask fit and filtration, ideally through the use of a surgical mask or respirator.

The CDPH recommends that persons use an antigen test to end isolation. Exposed persons who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 within 90 days prior to their current exposure should also use an antigen test. Use of Over-the-Counter tests are also acceptable to end isolation or quarantine.

The new CDPH quarantine and isolation periods will become the default rule under the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) as well. However, there are a couple of limitations to keep in mind:

  • The ETS amendments that go into effect on January 14 require individuals to wear a face covering and maintain six feet of social distance if they are not excluded or return to work. So, while the potential shortened time periods under the CDPH guidance apply, California employers will still need to follow the new social distancing requirements beginning on January 14.
  • The CDPH guidance requires testing to return after day 5, which will be incorporated into the Cal/OSHA ETS.
  • Employers need to be aware that the CDPH guidance introduces the concept of “boosted” individuals for the first time. This could require more employees to be excluded than contemplated under the ETS.

Under the amended ETS, an asymptomatic fully-vaccinated employee does not need to quarantine as long as they wear a face covering and social distance for the given time period. However, the CDPH guidance makes a new distinction between boosted and un-boosted individuals. If an employee is vaccinated and booster-eligible but has not yet received their booster dose, they must stay home for at least five days.

The CDPH guidance indicates that “local health jurisdictions may be more restrictive in determining isolation and quarantine recommendations based on local circumstances, in certain higher-risk settings or during certain situations that may require more protective isolation and quarantine requirements (for example, during active outbreaks).” Employers still need to check local quarantine and isolation periods as they may be more restrictive.

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