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California is considering dropping mask and physical distancing rules for employees at work sites if everyone there is fully vaccinated, another major step in moving back to normal as COVID-19 cases continue to plummet.

The discussions come as employers are considering plans to bring employees back into workplaces, especially those that went to remote work during the pandemic. It also underscores the growing optimism that the vaccine could bring major changes fairly soon.

“For the first time in a long time, I feel optimistic,” Dr. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County health officer and public health director, and a key architect of the nation’s first regional stay-at-home order, told reporters. “For a while, it seemed uncertain to me whether the vaccines or the variants would win. And I think that Team Vaccine is in the lead, holding the lead and will win.”

California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board is expected to weigh further steps to relax masking and physical distancing requirements for vaccinated workers.

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