California’s workplace regulators have withdrawn a controversial pending mask regulation while they consider a rule that more closely aligns with Gov. Newsom’s promise that the state will fully reopen from the pandemic on Tuesday. Alex Biston reports. (6-10-21)
ELIZABETH COOK: Our countdown of the states reopening on Tuesday. We are just a little more than four days away. And there is anger and confusion over the mixed messages about masks as most COVID related restrictions come to an end on Tuesday. Reporter Alex Biston explains why we may not know what we're supposed to do until after the June 15 reopening.
ALEX BISTON: Mask up or toss them out? Business owners and employees are confused as the state is gearing up to ease pandemic restrictions on June 15.
- It's been confusing in the state for a very long time. [LAUGHS]
- I'll just keep my mask on at all times just to be safe.
ALEX BISTON: Cal/OSHA is the agency in charge of workplace regulations for the state. In a meeting last night, they rescinded an order saying employees can stop wearing a mask if everyone in a room or workplace is vaccinated. And if one person is not vaccinated, all employees must keep their masks on. After receiving pushback on how that would be enforced, the agency is expected to reevaluate the rule.
LUIS ANAYA: Me, myself I want to get more clarity because there's too much wishy-washy.
ALEX BISTON: Santa Ana restaurant owner Luis Annia says it's hard to keep track of the changing rules.
LUIS ANAYA: Some employees are happy with working without a mask. Some are happy working with a mask, and I think we should-- As business owners, we should have the right to give them whatever opportunity they want. If they want to work without the mask or with the mask, should be their choice.
- We are done. We will not comply anymore.
ALEX BISTON: This morning, a few dozen Orange County business owners rallied outside of Cal/OSHA's Santa Ana office. They're demanding mask requirements be dropped altogether in workplace settings.
SYNDIE LY: We should do without masks. I mean, our numbers are low. Like I said, California is the last state. And so we're ready to open.
ALEX BISTON: Outside of the workplace, the state's Public Health Department is aligning with the CDC and relaxing mass requirements in most places for people who are fully vaccinated. Some workers like Justine Flores say they're going with the flow.
JUSTINE FLORES: This is the first time I've experienced a pandemic, so I'll go with whatever people are saying is right. Of course it would be great to have the smartest decision made first, but I'm like, we've experienced this back and forth. So we'll see what works, right?
- Alex Biston reporting.