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After a controversial workplace mask regulation sparked outrage from the California business community, state regulators voted late Wednesday to reverse that decision.
That rule, from the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, would have allowed workers in nearly all settings to forgo masks only in circumstances where everyone in a room had been vaccinated against COVID-19. If just one person was not vaccinated, everyone would have been required to wear a mask.
A dozen business groups and organizations representing manufacturers, farmers, tourism interests and other industries sent a letter to Newsom asking him to rescind the board's regulations ahead of Wednesday night's reversal.
OSHA ISSUES COVID-19 ‘EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARD’ FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS
Requiring masks unless all are vaccinated in a workplace would "create yet another barrier to rehiring and reopening" at a time when "we need to be providing incentives to bring people back," they said.
The board's controversial workplace decision comes as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a likely recall election, brought about by discontent over his handling of the pandemic.
Michael Miller, California Association of Winegrape Growers government relations director, told board members before the vote that the general public "doesn't draw a distinction between this board and the rest of the Newsom administration."
"What they hear is the Newsom administration say that wearing masks at work may be here to stay," he said.
Business groups also want the board to withdraw its proposal to require employers to start providing the most effective N95 masks for voluntary use by employees who work indoors or at large outdoor events and are not fully vaccinated, starting July 31. They said that would be costly and compete with the needs of health care workers.
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Board members emphasized prior to Wednesday’s vote that their revised rules were temporary. The board's decision to withdraw the workplace rule before it was supposed to go into effect allows the board to consider changes at a meeting next Thursday and potentially implement those changes before the end of the month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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