Orange County business owners protest workplace mask rules

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Some Orange County business owners are expressing frustration with changing state regulations on masks and physical distancing measures in the workplace.

Business owners are demanding that Gov. Gavin Newsom override what they say are unnecessary restrictions.

A few dozen people held a protest in Santa Ana Thursday at the regional office of Cal/OSHA, the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

The agency's board has changed positions more than once on whether employees will be required to wear masks in the workplace.

Wednesday night, the board reversed an earlier decision and backed off on a plan to only let vaccinated workers remove their masks if everyone else in the same area is also vaccinated.

Now the board is signaling it will likely go along with the state's plan to do away with most masking requirements for vaccinated people in accordance with the latest guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RELATED: Cal/OSHA withdraws controversial workplace mask rules

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California's workplace regulators have reversed themselves for the second time in a week. They withdrew a controversial, pending mask regulation late Wednesday.

Business owners say they're frustrated with the back and forth and they don't want to be in a position of tracking which employees have been vaccinated.

"We are not healthcare providers," said one woman at the protest. "We are small businesses who are struggling. I'm not going to tell my employees you have to get vaccinated. ... That is not our job. Our job is to keep them employed and safe. But it is not my job to keep a record of their health."

The Cal/OSHA board will consider changes at its next meeting on June 17, with any new regulations expected to take effect by the end of the month. The board chairman said the goal is to align with state and CDC recommendations, but the specifics of how that would work have not been finalized.

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