Compliance Matters TM

 Substantial New Changes To COVID Isolation Requirements

On January 9, 2024, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released a new COVID-19 guidance significantly reducing the isolation period for COVID cases and creating a ripple effect in the State’s COVID-19 workplace safety regulations. Given the broad immunity in the community due to vaccination and/or previous infection, the CDPH announced that it is shifting its approach to focus on protecting those most at risk for serious COVID-related illness while reducing social disruption. In alignment with these new policy objectives, the current CDPH guidance now focuses on the presence of COVID symptoms, rather than strict timelines, in determining the isolation period for those with COVID.

The new CDPH isolation and quarantine requirements are as follows:

  • Symptomatic COVID cases must stay home until: (1) they have not had a fever for 24 hours without using fever reducing medication; and (2) other COVID symptoms are mild and improving.

  •  Asymptomatic COVID cases are not required to stay home and isolate.

  • Whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, COVID cases must do the following:

  1. Mask when around others for 10 days after they first experience COVID symptoms or test positive (if asymptomatic).
  2. Mask can be removed before 10 days if the COVID case has two sequential negative tests at least one day apart.
  3. Avoid contact with people at higher-risk for severe COVID for 10 days after they become sick or test positive (if asymptomatic), such as the elderly, those in congregate care facilities, and those with immunocompromising conditions.

  • Those who have close contact with a COVID case are not required to isolate or quarantine, but should do the following:

  1. Test and mask immediately if they have COVID symptoms.
  2. Test within 5 days if they are at higher risk of severe COVID and would benefit from treatment.
  3. Mask indoors when around people with higher risk for severe COVID for 10 days.

In addition to the CDPH, employers are also required to follow Cal-OSHA’s COVID workplace regulations and guidance from the local health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace. The major impacts of the new CDPH guidance on the Cal-OSHA workplace regulations are as follows:

  • Employers can follow the CDPH isolation guidance for employees with COVID. In other words, asymptomatic COVID cases no longer need to be excluded from the workplace and the previous 5-day isolation period for symptomatic COVID cases is gone.

  • Asymptomatic COVID cases are no longer considered “infectious.” This means that employers do not need to provide testing to close contacts of asymptomatic COVID cases and do not need to provide a notice of potential exposure.

  • All COVID cases, whether symptomatic or not, must continue to wear a face covering in the workplace for a full 10 days, regardless of whether they have two sequential negative tests. Symptomatic COVID cases must wear a face covering until 10 days have passed since their symptoms began and asymptomatic COVID cases until 10 days have passed since their first positive test.

Employers should also check the latest guidance from their local health officer to ensure they have aligned with the new CDPH guidance. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health recently issued guidance adopting the new CDPH rules except that asymptomatic COVID cases not isolating are specifically required to wear a respiratory mask.

As always, if you have any questions about the matters discussed in this issue of Compliance Matters, please call your firm contact at (818) 508-3700 or visit us online at


Richard S. Rosenberg

Katherine A. Hren

Charles W. Foster
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