Ready, Set, Yellow! Los Angeles Provides Additional Guidance for Offices Looking to Welcome Back Employees


This past week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an order moving Los Angeles into the least restrictive of California's color-coded levels of coronavirus-related tiers, the "yellow tier." As restrictions loosen for theaters, amusement parks, sports venues, museums, and bars, what does this mean for office-based employers in Los Angeles?

Updated Guidance for LA Office-Based Employers:

  • Office Capacity Increased from 50% to 75%. "Unless all staff at an office-based business are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the number of employees in the office-based business worksite is limited at any one time such that employees can easily maintain at least a six-foot distance from one another at all practicable times but in no case more than 75% of the maximum occupancy of the office-based business worksite."
  • Capacity Limits Apply Where Not Everyone Is Fully Vaccinated. "People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 2 weeks or more after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (e.g., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or 2 weeks or more after they have received a single-dose vaccine (e.g., Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen)."
  • Distancing Limits Also Only Apply If Not All Persons Are Confirmed to Be Vaccinated. "Office-based businesses that have confirmed and documented that all on-site employees, contractors and persons regularly present at an office-based business are fully vaccinated do not have to adhere to the physical distancing requirements between employees/staff." "Office workplaces that permit only fully vaccinated persons to be on-site in the office may seat employees closer than 6 feet apart."
  • Los Angeles Continues to Require Personnel at Offices to Wear Masks When Around Others, Even at Fully Vaccinated Offices. "Employees in fully vaccinated offices must also continue to adhere to all other requirements in this protocol, including wearing face masks while on-site and completing a daily symptom screening prior to entering the worksite."
  • Guidance on Acceptable Proof of Vaccination. "The following are acceptable for the employee to show their employer as proof of full vaccination for COVID-19: a photographic identification and their vaccination card (which includes the name of person vaccinated, type of COVID-19 vaccine provided and date last dose administered) OR a photo of their vaccination card as a separate document OR a photo of the attendee's vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device OR documentation of full vaccination against COVID-19 from a healthcare provider (which includes name of person vaccinated and confirms they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19)."
  • Guidance for Documenting Proof of Vaccination. "For fully vaccinated employees who have shown proof of their full vaccination against COVID-19, the employer should create and keep a written record that documents that each of these employees has shown them acceptable proof of full vaccination. The employer does not need to keep a copy of the proof of full vaccination shown."
  • Compliance with State Guidelines. In addition to complying with Los Angeles County guidance, employers should also comply with guidance from the State of California. Currently, employers in the yellow tier should encourage their employees to work remotely. California's tier system is expected to be phased out by June 15, 2021.

Guidance That Continues in Effect, Unchanged:

  • Reporting. Employers are still required to report to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health an outbreak of three or more cases of COVID-19 among their employees within a span of 14 days.
  • Exposure and Isolation Protocols. Employers must continue to maintain compliant COVID-19 exposure and isolation protocols in the event that any employee tests positive for or has symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Cal-OSHA Compliance. Employers should still comply with all health and safety requirements from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, including establishing and implementing a written Model COVID-19 Prevention Program. More information is available here:

Details of the new guidance are contained in Appendix D of the order.