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New mask rules for California state workers: Who still needs a face covering?

New mask rules for California state workers: Who still needs a face covering?

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California face mask

Most fully vaccinated California state employees don't need to wear masks at work anymore, the state Human Resources Department announced Monday.

The state is following Cal-OSHA COVID-19 safety guidance issued last week for all California workers, CalHR Director Eraina Ortega said in an email to state officials.

The major exception to the relaxed rule is state prisons, which will continue to require masks regardless of vaccine status, according to Ortega's email.

About 65,500 people work at the prisons, and 33,474 are vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tracker. About 69,000 of the state's 98,000 inmates are fully vaccinated, according to the site.

Additionally, vaccinated employees will have to keep masks on while working in health care settings, on public transportation and at transportation hubs, in schools and youth settings and at homeless and emergency shelters, according to Ortega's email.

Masks are still required for unvaccinated employees, according to the email.

Departments must document state employees' vaccination status, but they are required to accept employees' word on their status, and may not require verification, according to the email.

Departments must provide respirators, such as N95s, for unvaccinated employees who request them, the email says.

June 15th is a big day here in California. Physical distancing, capacity limits and a county tier system have ended. Over a year of restrictions."You had time to grow, time to spend with your family,"  Christina, from San Diego said. Months of frustration...I got really bored of wearing a mask," Tamer from Oakland said.  Theres finally a break for the Golden State. California, the first to shut down in March 2020, now 15 months ago...is among the last states to lift its COVID mandates. Masks are gone for fully vaccinated folks, but businesses can decide if they still want people to wear them. "I'm very happy because after many months closed and after the hard times for the COVID, now I see that the light is coming,"Martha Medina, a merchant at Olverita's Village in San Francisco said. Officials are hoping for a tourism boost...about half a million jobs in the state were lost during the height of the pandemic. "Business was off 70 percent last year, though it has really affected the Wharf," Tom La Torre, Owner of Sabella & La Torre Restaurant says of Fisherman's Warf, a popular tourist spot in San Francisco. Since mass vaccination sites began rolling out in early 2021, California has some of the lowest infection rates in the U.S. It once had the highest coronavirus community spread rates in the country -- showing what a difference vaccines are making.  Two-thirds of people 12 and up here have gotten at least one dose. There are still neighborhoods with low vaccination rates. Wealthier areas and white communities are outpacing low-income and Black and Latino populations.  The states awarded more than $15 million in lotteries to try to drive those numbers up. Even with all that, some are still weary of the virus. "I feel like Im not ready" Adelle from Oakland told Newsy."Just this-this is what I feel comfortable with right now," a woman in San Diego said.Some restrictions remain. Those unvaxed, still need a mask. Anyone on public transportation needs one too. Same with schools K-12, and some workplaces. Really, it's up to the business.At the Oakland Zoo, theyre still requiring social distancing and masks in high traffic places inside and outside. "We have people coming from other counties, people coming from out of state who may not have been vaccinated yet," Isabella Linares, Marketing Associate for the Oakland Zoo said. Many people Newsy spoke with are still confused by masking. Businesses can decide if they want to rely on the honor system or use a digital vaccination verification, set to roll out later this month.  Lindsey Theis, Newsy. San Francisco. 

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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