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February 2022: San Francisco Issues Revised Rules on Vaccination and Masking Requirements

15 Feb


Update Applicable to:
All businesses with indoor office settings, indoor mega-events, gyms, fitness centers, restaurants, and/or bars in the city of San Francisco, California.

What happened?
On January 26, 2022, the city of San Francisco revised its Public Health Order to address vaccination and masking requirements for various businesses that operate in San Francisco, California.

What are the details?
While the California Department of Public Health continues to order most Californians to wear masks in indoor public places through February 15, 2022, San Francisco authorities believe that because of its previous restrictions, it can create the exceptions identified below.

Effective February 15, 2022, San Franciscans who work in indoor office settings do not need to wear a well-fitted mask if all of the below conditions are present: 

  1. They are up to date on their vaccinations (which means the person must have also received a booster if booster-eligible);
  2. Visitors show proof of up-to-date vaccination or wear a well-fitted mask;
  3. Unvaccinated individuals who are granted exemptions for religious or medical reasons are tested before entry, provided that these individuals are not required to be tested more than twice a week and wear a well-fitted mask while in the office;
  4. The business has implemented an appropriate ventilation protocol as specified by the Public Health Order; and
  5. The business is not experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

Operators of indoor Mega Events (now defined as those attended by 500 or more people) can now permit attendance based on proof of up-to-date vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.  The negative COVID-19 test must be administered no more than one day prior to the event if it is an antigen test, or two days prior for a PCR test. Self-administered antigen tests are not accepted unless it is verified by a third party.

Businesses such as gyms, fitness centers, restaurants, and bars previously were required to have staff and patrons show proof of vaccination.  They are now permitted, but not required, to provide limited exemptions based on religious or medical reasons.  However, individuals granted exemptions must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entry into the business, although they cannot be required to test more than twice a week, so long as the tests are at least three days apart.  

Moreover, these individuals must wear a well-fitted mask (currently recommended to mean an N95, KN95, KF94, or other similar non-vented respirators, although a cloth mask over a surgical mask also suffices).  Additionally, patrons and personnel of gyms, fitness centers, and similar establishments can remove their masks while indoors if they are up to date on their vaccination status (with similar exceptions and requirements for masking as those pertaining to office settings), so long as the operator of the facility controls access to their facility to ensure vaccination requirements (or testing for exemptions with masking) are followed.

The Public Health Order contains many other provisions, including, but not limited to, those governing workers in high-risk settings, school settings, and museums and galleries.

For more information, please see the links below:

SF Public Health Order

SF’s Guidance on Masks


What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above, continue to follow the mask and vaccine mandate, and review their current mask and vaccine policies to ensure they are compliant with the revised rules.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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