California to end indoor mask mandate on Feb. 15

Photo by Alin Luna on Unsplash

LA County to keep masking in place 

THE state of California will end the statewide indoor mask mandate on Feb. 15 and ease more coronavirus related restrictions.

Officials on Monday, Feb. 7 announced that next week, the order to require Californians to cover their faces in indoor public settings will be lifted.

The mandate took effect in December amid the omicron variant and was slated to expire until Jan. 15 before being extended for another month.

“Omicron has loosened its hold on California, vaccines for children under 5 are around the corner, and access to COVID-19 treatments is improving,” State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón said in a statement. “With things moving in the right direction, we are making responsible modifications to COVID-19 prevention measures, while also continuing to develop a longer-term action plan for the state.”

Masks will still be required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses, such as retail stores, restaurants and theaters. Despite the mandate’s lifting, fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to continue indoor masking when the risk may be high. Surgical masks or higher-level respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) with good fit are highly recommended.

Masks are required for all individuals will still be required in certain settings, regardless of vaccination status. The areas include: public transit (e.g. airplanes, trains, subways, buses, ride-shares); K-12 schools and childcare; emergency shelters; health care settings; state and local correctional facilities and detention centers; homeless shelters; and long-term care settings and adult and senior care facilities.

The following individuals are exempt from wearing masks at all times:

  • Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • California is also amending its regulations for “mega” events starting Feb. 16. The guidance will return to thresholds of 1,000 attendees for indoor mega events and 10,000 attendees for outdoor mega events.
  • For indoor mega events, verification of fully vaccinated status or pre-entry negative testresult is required of all attendees.
  • LA County won’t lift mask mandate
  • Despite the state’s plan to end the mask mandate, Los Angeles County officials said it will remain in place as cases remain high in the region.
  • “This is not the right time to stop wearing our masks when around others indoors, and in outdoor crowded settings,” said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
  • As of Monday, Feb. 7, Public Health confirmed 29 additional deaths and 4,360 new cases of COVID-19. The number of cases and deaths reflect the weekend reporting delays. Of the 29 new deaths reported, four people were between the ages of 50-64, seven were between the ages of 65-79, and 18 were over the age of 80 years old. Of the 29 newly reported deaths, 23 had underlying health conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in LA County is 29,457. n


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