Children will still be required to keep their masks on at school, though California will reassess that on Feb. 28.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California health officials have lifted the statewide COVID-19 indoor mask mandate in public settings for vaccinated people. Children, however, are still required to keep their masks on at school for at least another two weeks.
Health & Human Services Agency Sec. Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Monday in a press conference that the state will reassess the current mask requirement for schools on Feb. 28.
Most Bay Area counties, with the exception of Santa Clara Co., are following the state's lead and lift their indoor mask mandates as omicron cases decrease.
Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley will lifted the universal mask requirements for most indoor public settings.
Officials argued that COVID's spread has also waned significantly across the region and that relaxing mask requirements is part of a shift toward a "new normal" of living with the virus rather than attempting to snuff out its spread completely.
"We are able to take this next major step of removing the universal indoor mask requirement because we have laid a strong foundation in good public health protections -- especially vaccines and boosters -- and know we can reduce severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths," Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Ori Tzvieli said.
Santa Clara County Health Director Sara Cody disagrees.
"We're taking a different course in Santa Clara County in that we are continuing to follow our data and metrics to tell us when it's appropriate to lift," she said. "So that's the difference."
The CDC has said cloth masks are not that effective against omicron, but Dr. Cody said residents in her county still need this protection.
"Masks are very important additional layer and have been throughout the pandemic," she said. "We need to layer up, need many layers in place when there's a lot of COVID circulating right now. We are still at the high levels of community transmission, we are in the CDC red, and that's why we are still requiring masks indoors."
Here's some guidance from the state of California on current mask recommendations and requirements.
Face masks can help slow the spread of coronavirus and single layer cloth masks are the least effective, unless they are layered, preferably with three or more. Here is a list of masks recommended by the California government.
Whatever mask you wear, make sure it fits to your face closely and without gaps.
Yes. The state requires employers to provide unvaccinated employees with NIOSH-certified respirator masks for voluntary use when working indoors, or in a vehicle with others.
Unvaccinated workers must wear masks in state offices.
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