With CA mask mandate expiring, Bay Area business owners hope their counties will follow suit

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Governor Gavin Newsom is set to let California's statewide mask mandate expire on February 15, but each county has or can implement a mask mandate of their own.

All Bay Area counties, except for Marin, have a mask mandate.

Even though the statewide one expires, people in those counties would still be required to wear a mask if a mandate is in place. However, medical experts say there are reasons to be optimistic.

"We are in a much better place now than compared to last year," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious disease expert at UCSF. "We have vaccines. We have boosters. We also have a high amount of population immunity."

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Gov. Newsom cited a 65% decrease in recent COVID-19 cases, and a stable amount of hospitalizations as reasons for his decision to not extend the mandate.

Whether or not Bay Area counties will follow the state remains to be seen.

ABC7 News reached out to all county health departments. San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties say they are evaluating their plans about keeping or dropping the mandate. We are still waiting to hear from other counties.

VIDEO: CA to lift indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people on Feb. 15, Newsom says
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California will end its indoor masking requirement for vaccinated people on Feb. 15, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday.

Business owners in the Bay Area want the counties to follow the state.

"It just becomes impossible to police it ourselves," said Adam Kovacs, founder and CEO of Sonoma Fitness gym. "I think it is time to get back to normalcy in some sense."

Kovacs says his gym took a massive financial hit during the pandemic. He says a large demographic of people who came to his gym stopped. He hopes by dropping the mandate, that demographic will return and help his business recover faster.

"People walk in and see everyone wearing a mask, they are reminded that we are still in a pandemic," he said. "By dropping the masks, we think more will feel comfortable and recommit to a healthy and active lifestyle."

ABC 7 is still waiting to hear back from Sonoma County about its plans. Dr. Chin-Hong says, during this period of transition, people should follow the current guidelines until each county provides clarity.

"COVID hasn't gone away," he said. "There is still a virus going around and anyone who is vulnerable is still at risk, but have tools at our disposal now."

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