Former San Diego city council member Carl DeMaio slammed the state’s latest "draconian" workplace regulations on COVID-19 masks, warning that, if enforced, will deal a "crushing blow" to California businesses.
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board’s new rules allow workers to go maskless – only if every employee in a room is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. If just one person, is not vaccinated, all employees must wear a mask.
Employers are also required to stockpile the most effective N95 masks for employees who want them starting July 1.
The board initially voted 4-to-3 to reject any changes to current rules but later reversed the decision to give the new rules the go-ahead on Thursday.
"I think a lot of people were stunned by that ultimate rule. I talked to various business groups who just felt it was arbitrary, capricious, (and) draconian," said DeMaio, who chairs "Reform California" an advocacy group that opposes tax increases and promotes government accountability. "You know, nobody agrees with the rule that they adopted."
The revised rules come as Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a likely recall election this fall brought on by public discontent over his handling of the pandemic.
The Cal/OSHA workplace regulations apply in almost every workplace in the state – including workers in offices, factories and retail.
Business groups noted that the board’s rules are out of step with the rest of the country and set up "an inconsistent standard" between members of the public and employees of private and government workplaces.
DeMaio said the new rules, if allowed to stand, "will deal a crushing blow to California businesses," because of the burdensome costs of obtaining N95 masks, as well as the possibility of employees walking off the job.
"You have all these vaccinated individuals and they're now being told that, ‘well, it doesn't matter if CDC says you don't need to wear a mask. We've decided to force you to wear a mask if any one person in your workplace ... is not vaccinated,’" DeMaio said. "Nowhere in CDC science is that justified. It's not called for. It doesn't provide a benefit to those people because CDC has come out and said that people who are vaccinated do not need to wear masks because there is no risk to them."
The Cal/OSHA workplace regulations are expected to take effect June 15, the same day the state more broadly loosens masking and other precautions in social settings.
Fox Business has reached out to Cal/OSHA for comment but did hear back before publication.