California announced that they are reinstating their universal indoor mask mandate on Monday.
The mandate will go into effect statewide on Wednesday and continue until January 15, 2022.
Health and Human Services Sec. Dr. Mark Ghaly said in his announcement of the mandate that it will apply to all residents and visitors regardless of their vaccination status.
The news of the mandate comes as the state reported 18 cases of the omicron variant, which is said to typically have mild symptoms.
“The state will also require people attending mega-events of 1,000 people or more that don’t require vaccination to show proof of a negative test taken within one day for an antigen test, and within two days for a PCR test. The previous window was 72 hours,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “And it will recommend that travelers returning to California get tested three to five days after arrival.”
A mask mandate was already in effect in the state for those who are unvaccinated, but the rules for vaccinated people had varied by county and local ordinances.
“This is a critical time,” Ghaly said, according to the Chronicle report. “We have a tool we know has worked and can work. We are proactively putting this tool of universal indoor masking in place to ensure we get through a time of joy and hope without a darker cloud of despair. Californians have done this before, and we believe we can do it again.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that coronavirus case rates have risen by 50% in the last 2½ weeks.
“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers California as having a high level of transmission of the coronavirus, the worst tier in the federal agency’s four-tier scale,” the report adds.
New York also mandated masks indoors on Monday, except in places where people are required to be vaccinated for entry.