Face mask requirements for healthcare facilities still apply to dental practices

The universal mask mandate will end Feb. 16, as scheduled, for most vaccinated Californians in indoor public places, including restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues, but masks will continue to be required for all people in dental and medical practices and other specified settings.

Many counties also have their own mask mandates in place, and some counties, including Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties, will continue to enforce an indoor public mask mandate for everyone. Individuals must follow the stricter mandate, whether from the state or their local government.

Business owners and venue operators across the state can choose to require all of their customers to wear masks in settings where masks are only required for unvaccinated people.

New California mask guidelines acknowledges the significant decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the omicron variant over the past two months, as well as Californians’ knowledge of “how to protect themselves and their loved ones with effective masks when there may be a risk of COVID-19 exposure.”

But the guidelines also specify that face masks will remain mandatory for all people in the following settings, regardless of their vaccination status:

  • Health care establishments, including dental practices
  • Public transportation, including airplanes, subways, buses, and carpools
  • Indoors at K-12 schools
  • State and local correctional facilities
  • Homeless shelters
  • Long-term care facilities and adult care facilities
  • Emergency shelters

All dental office workers and patients must wear face masks. the Temporary Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Standards comply with updated guidelines from the California Department of Public Health.

N95 or better respirators during aerosol-generating procedures

CDA reminds dentists that when performing or involved in aerosol-generating procedures (open airway suctioning, sputum induction, and others), dental personnel should wear NIOSH approved N95, N95 or better equivalent respirators.

Details on the use of N95s and other safety measures are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. interim recommendations on infection prevention and control updated February 2, 2022.

Members can also view CDA’s quick chart on PPE requirements for dental practices and resources to assist with the initial N95 fit test required for each employee who wears an N95.

Larry A. Schroeder