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‘Back to normal’: Valley office workers split on new workplace mask rules


No more masks on the job – if you're fully vaccinated.

That's the new ruling Thursday from the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, or Cal/OSHA, which voted to pull back pandemic regulations in the workplace, including for masks and social distancing.

Governor Newsom quickly issued an executive order on this, putting the new Cal/OSHA rules into effect immediately.

In workplaces across the state like restaurants and retailers, this is the moment they've been waiting for. But for some, it's still too soon.

The staff at Ascend Insurance Agency in Palm Desert is split on the decision. Dennis Vanbuskirk owns the business. He said he's ready for post-pandemic life, mask-free.

"I want to go back to normal," Vanbuskirk said. "I have already had Covid back in Octover, so i feel that ... it's something that I hopefully can't get again."

He's chosen not to get vaccinated though, which means some of his employees in the office feel safer keeping their masks on.

"Until things pan out a little bit more, especially with this Delta variant coming in and them being very concerned with that, it is scary," said office manager Teri Gonzales. "It’s very scary."

Gonzales said she's lost close family to Covid-19. Interacting with insurance clients on a daily basis, she said she's still not taking any chances. Wearing a mask means she can skip potentially heated discussions about who is – and isn't – vaccinated, she said.

"I don't know who’s coming in that door without a shot at this point," Gonzales said. "I don't know if they’d want to answer the question, or if we’d want to ask if they’ve gotten vaccinated, because sometimes it really offends people."

Cal/OSHA's ruling Thursday means vaccinated people can take their masks off at work, while those unvaccinated should keep it on.

And Vanbuskirk said even when they don't agree, his employees should do what's best for them. "I respect their opinion and what they believe in, but at the same token I just really think we need to move on," he said. "I'll give them the option to wear it."

Employers can ask for workers' vaccination status – they are required to document it. But employees have the choice of providing proof, like a vaccination card, or self-attesting their vaccination status.

Coronavirus / Local News / News Headlines / Top Stories

Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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