Near the end of 2021, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued the Emergency Temporary Standard (the ETS), which required employers with 100 or more employees to put in place a mandatory vaccination policy or require weekly COVID-19 testing and mask wearing by unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees. On November 5, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed enforcement and application of the vaccine mandate; this stay was dissolved by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 17, 2021. See the discussion of these rulings here and here. Thereafter, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review the issue.

On January 6, 2022, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) released updated FAQs clarifying that the isolation and quarantine recommendations from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) (see post here) replace the exclusion periods and return-to-work criteria in the revised Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) approved by the OSHA Board on December 16, 2021. A link to guidance regarding the revised ETS, which takes effect on January 14, is available here.

As the COVID-19 landscape evolves and the Omicron variant pervades, state and local governments and health authorities have modified their recommendations, guidance, and regulations in an effort to manage the pandemic.

For example, on December 30, 2021, following the CDC’s December 27, 2021, changes to its quarantine and isolation recommendations, the California Department of Public

The CDC recently updated its guidelines on, among other things, quarantine and isolation periods and recommendations regarding booster shots. Below is a high-level summary of some of these changes.

At the end of December 2021, the CDC updated its guidance regarding quarantine and isolation. A media statement from the CDC regarding its updates can be found here. Some of the biggest changes from the December recommendations involved the following:

  • Reducing isolation for those with COVID-19 to five days followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.
  • Revising quarantine periods, including:
    • For unvaccinated individuals, individuals who completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna over five months ago and are not boosted, or individuals who completed J&J over two months ago and are not boosted, quarantine five days followed by “strict mask use” for five days.
    • If quarantine is “not feasible,” wear a “well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.”
    • Individuals who have received booster shots do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.

In an updated guidance released on December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced the recommended isolation and quarantine period for the general population. The term “isolation” refers to the recommended behavior after a confirmed COVID-19 infection, while “quarantine” is the term that applies to the period following a person’s exposure to the virus or close contact with someone who has COVID-19. According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Omicron variant is spreading quickly, and the “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses.”

On December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit granted the Biden Administration’s motion to Dissolve the Stay of the OSHA Vaccine ETS, which was issued by the Fifth Circuit on November 5, 2021.  See link to full opinion. Judge Stranch (an Obama appointee) authored the opinion, which Judge Gibbons (a Bush appointee) joined. Judge Larsen

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Board) readopted a revised version of its earlier Emergency Temporary Standards (Standard) for employers on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace on December 16, 2021. The revised Standard was readopted by a 6-1 vote in the form proposed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Division) and will take effect on January 14, 2022, for a period of 90 days. 

On December 14, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance to affirm that workers who contract COVID-19 can be protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Depending on an individual employee’s specific circumstances, COVID-19 may constitute a protected physical or mental disability, may serve as the basis for an employer’s perception that an employee has a disability, and/or may contribute to a record of employee impairment.

On December 13, 2021, the California Department of Health (CPDH) reinstituted a statewide mask mandate. From December 15, 2021 through at least January 15, 2022, all individuals will be required to wear masks in indoor public settings. The mandate applies regardless of vaccination status.

The mandate exempts children under two, persons with medical conditions or

On December 3, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected, without analysis, the Biden administration’s request to expedite the briefing schedule on the issue of whether to dissolve an injunction from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which stayed enforcement of Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine Emergency