California: COVID-19 Isolation Guidelines Reduced


All Employers with Employees in CA


January 9, 2024


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Quick Look

  • The CDPH removes COVID-19 isolation periods following 24 hours after fever elimination without the use of fever-reducing medication and with mild and improving symptoms.
  • People must still mask for 10 days following onset of symptoms or positive test.
  • There is no change to prevention and isolation rules in healthcare settings.
  • Employers must still follow Cal/OSHA’s Non-Emergency Regulations for COVID-19 in the workplace.


The California Public Health Department (CDPH) recently updated its COVID-19 guidance to adjust isolation requirements. The CDPH has shifted the focus of its policies and priorities for intervention to protecting those most at risk for serious illness, and keeping recommendations consistent with the prevention of other endemic respiratory viral infections. COVID-19 vaccination remains the CDPH’s most important strategy to prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19, as well as focusing on early treatments to reduce the severity of disease once individuals are infected.


What is the new guidance?

The new guidance tells people to stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms. People can end isolation 24 hours following the end of a fever (without fever-reducing medication) and their symptoms are mild and improving. However, people are instructed to mask for 10 days after becoming sick or testing positive. Masks may be removed sooner than 10 days following two sequential negative tests at least one day apart. Those with COVID-19 should avoid contact with people at higher-risk for severe COVID-19 for 10 days, including the elderly, those who live in congregate care facilities, those who have immunocompromising conditions, and that put them at higher risk for serious illness.


Do the Cal/OSHA Non-Emergency Regulations still apply to employers?

Yes. Employers must still follow the non-emergency regulations for COVID-19 cases. Because the regulations look to the CDPH rules on when isolation is required, the new CDPH isolation guidelines must be followed for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. Note that for COVID-19 cases with no symptoms, there is no infectious period for the purpose of isolation or exclusion.


CDPH no longer recommends testing for all close contacts and instead recommends testing only for all people with new COVID-19 symptoms, and close contacts who are at higher risk of severe disease or who have contact with people who are at higher risk of severe disease. Regardless of CDPH recommendations, employers must continue to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to all employees with a close contact, except for asymptomatic employees who recently recovered from COVID-19. Employers must also still follow the regulations rules on outbreaks.


Does this updated guidance apply to healthcare settings?

No. ​This guidance does not apply to healthcare personnel. Healthcare personnel in general acute care hospital​​, acute psychiatric​ hospital, and skilled nursing facilities should continue to follow their industry-specific regulations.


Action Items

  1. Review the updated guidance here.
  2. Review updates to the Cal/OSHA Non-Emergency Regulation guidance here.
  3. Have policies and procedures updated.
  4. Have appropriate personnel trained on the new guidelines.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2024 ManagEase