Patients and visitors are no longer required to wear face masks in dental offices, hospitals, physicians’ offices and other indoor health care and high-risk settings in California as of April 3 per guidance from the state Department of Public Health. The new guidance permits facilities to develop mask policies specific to their needs.
Workers, regardless of their vaccination status, also are not required to wear face masks at work except for clinical staff when they are performing procedures on patients. In these situations, current Cal/OSHA and Dental Board of California infection control regulations will continue to apply as they did before the pandemic.
Workers, patients and visitors in health care and high-risk settings in California had been complying since June 2020 with the state's mask mandate. The new CDPH guidance on the use of face masks follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s termination on Feb. 28 of California’s pandemic State of Emergency.
The new mask guidance is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Community Levels. CDPH states of the new guidance: “Health care facilities and other high-risk setting operators should develop and implement their own facility-specific plans based on their community, patient population, and other facility considerations incorporating CDPH and CDC recommendations.”
Patients, visitors and nonclinical workers always have the option to wear a face mask or respirator and cannot be prevented from doing so. CDPH recommends that any individual with respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, wear a mask when around others.
Dental practices must continue to screen patients for COVID-19 prior to and at their appointments in accordance with the exemption requirements of the aerosol transmissible disease regulation.
Ahead of April 3, dental offices should communicate to employees the effective date of the new mask guidance to ensure all dental team members can communicate it effectively to patients. Practice owners can also convey that masking will not be required but will be “strongly recommended” when there is a high level of community spread of COVID-19 and a related impact on the health care system per the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels.
Beginning April 3, dental offices in California should consider posting signage that reflects their mask policy for patients and visitors, for example, “Masking is recommended but not required.” CDA created a "masks optional" sign that dental offices may print and display.
Face masks remain required in dental settings for personnel in these situations:
Read the CDPH’s mask guidance that took effect April 3. See CDA resources on PPE, infection control and COVID-19 screening and the article about Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Nonemergency Regulation, which replaced the emergency regulation and took effect Feb. 3.