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Local businesses navigate new COVID workplace rules

Recently, the state of California revised its COVID-19 workplace rules and they went into effect on Friday, Jan. 14. Some of the changes from Cal/OSHA include:

  • Employees will not be able to self-test at home and read their results by themselves. COVID-19 tests now have to be done in front of a health care representative, a supervisor, or the employee must go to a laboratory to get tested.
  • If employees choose to wear a fabric mask, instead of a surgical or medical one, the new rules say it needs to be “'tightly woven fabric or non-woven material of at least two layers' that does not let light pass through when held up to a light source."
  • If there's an outbreak at work, employers must make COVID-19 testing available to employees during paid time who had close contact with a COVID-19 case, regardless of vaccination status and if they were asymotmatic.
  • If exposed to a COVID-19 case, vaccinated, asymptomatic people must be sent home unless they wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart for 2 weeks.

The new rules are set to expire in mid-April.

Many local business owners are already dealing with COVID-related staffing shortages and the added stress of keeping up with the new rules can become an extra burden for them. The shortage in at-home rapid tests doesn't make the situation any easier.

"It's very stressful. I have a word for that. Perseverance," said owner of Mario's Italian Cafe, Mario DelGuidice.

DelGuidice said he'd rather hand off the responsibility of supervising COVID-19 testing to a health professional.

"To come into my building to test? We already have a problem if they think they have COVID," said DelGuidice.

Steve Garcia, who owns Sixth Street Coffee in Coachella, agrees.

"That's not something I want to, you know, do myself, I would much rather than, you know, see a professional for that," said Garcia.

Garcia said if needs to start providing FDA approved at-home tests to his employees, he'll do what it takes to make it happen.

"If that's something that I have to start doing on my end for the safety of, you know, the other team members and customers and, you know, as a business, we just got to do what we got to do, right?" said Garcia.

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.

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