City employees in Montclair, California, are being forced to wear a "sticker" if they decide not to wear a face mask while on the job and are fully vaccinated.
What are the details?
Under the program, Montclair city employees who wish to not wear a mask while at work will be required to show proof of vaccination, and will be given a sticker allowing them to shed their face mask.
Montclair Director of Administrative Services and Human Resources Jon Hamilton billed the directive as "voluntary" — but meant the city is not requiring employees to be vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees, however, will be forced to continue wearing face masks.
"The program is 100% voluntary, so if anybody has concerns about their own medical confidentiality and they do not wish to participate, there's no mandate … they continue to wear their mask and operate under all safety protocols required right now during COVID-19," Hamilton said, KTLA-TV reported.
As the Los Angeles Times noted, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted last month to require fully vaccinated employees prove they are vaccinated before removing their face mask in the workplace.
"Employers may allow fully vaccinated employees not to wear face coverings indoors, but must document their vaccination status," the agency said.
The state agency, however, did not require maskless employees to prominently display their vaccination status.
What was the reaction?
While Montclair City Manager Edward Starr and Mayor Javier "John" Dutrey are defending the policy, city councilman Ben Lopez is pushing back.
"I'm all for people making an independent decision. What I'm opposed to is a public declaration of that status on any item of clothing, ID, whatever it is," Lopez said, according to KCAL-TV.
"Just because numbers are going up doesn't mean that people's individual rights to privacy, especially with their medical information, is not null and void. We don't need a sticker. The default is the mask," he explained in a separate interview. "If you're wearing the mask, clearly you're not vaccinated or you choose not to reveal it, or if you're not wearing the mask, you're vaccinated."
What about CDC guidelines?
The most recent guidance published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that fully vaccinated people can "resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic."
"Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing," the CDC guidance says, "except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."
However, that is likely to change Tuesday.
The CDC is expected to announce recommendations that certain parts of the country, those with high COVID-19 transmission rates, should mask up — regardless of vaccine status — as well as everyone in K-12 schools.