California's new indoor mask mandate doesn't apply to all Bay Area counties

New guidance came out late Tuesday from the state, giving exemptions to San Francisco, San Mateo and Contra Costa counties.

J.R. Stone Image
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
California's indoor mask mandate doesn't apply to everyone
California is adding an indoor mask mandate in all public settings, despite vaccination status, through Jan. 15th, 2022, in response to the pandemic.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Individuals in many San Francisco offices, gyms, churches, and college classes will be exempt from a new state indoor mask mandate going into place on Wednesday.

New guidance came out late Tuesday from the state which will allow things to continue as they are in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Contra Costa Counties because of existing mandates.

California's indoor mask mandate: A Bay Area guide to changes in your county

"In the last 24 hours I've gone from tears of disappointment, to tears of joy. I'm an emotional fish at this point," says fitness owner Dave Karraker. Karraker, who also heads the San Francisco Independent Fitness Studio Coalition, is emotional because earlier this week the state said an indoor mask mandate would be in effect come Wednesday. Now they've clarified that, saying it will be in effect in counties that do not already have existing indoor masking requirements in place in public settings.

San Francisco does have indoor masking requirements but also has an exception. One that says those in offices and fitness centers with under 100 people who have shown proof of full vaccination can unmask inside. This exception will stay in place come Wednesday.

"Any disruption could have spelled 'doom' for small business. I personally know of one gym that had 18 members as of yesterday put their membership on hold," says Karraker.

RELATED: State reinstates indoor mask mandate for one month amid new COVID-19 increase

Possibly over fears that gym goers would be forced to wear a mask in the fitness center.

Contra Costa County has rules nearly identical to San Francisco, and like the city, those at certain gyms and offices will be allowed to unmask.

San Mateo County currently has indoor masking requirements with no exceptions and we're told by officials that that won't change.

Marin County previously lifted their mask requirement. Officials there tell us they consulted with their legal team Tuesday night, and "will be able to adopt previous mask language which will allow for certain exemptions."

Confusing yes, but Karraker says it's a game changer for small businesses in San Francisco, and for those who have gotten vaccinated.

"I'm really glad that Dr. Philip at the Department of Health in San Francisco was able to fight back and ultimately win for everybody in San Francisco," says Karraker.

VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.