California’s indoor mask mandate expires next week and the state government does not plan to renew the requirement.
However, the policy change is not the end of mask regulations entirely in the state.
The mandate, which took effect on Dec. 15, requires masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccine status. While the measure was initially set to end on Jan. 15, the government extended the mandate citing concerns about the prevalence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The California Department of Public Health reported at the time that there were an average of 300 new cases for every 100,000 residents. The current average is 103 cases per 100,00 residents.
Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledged the change in infection rates on Feb. 7.
“CA’s case rate has decreased by 65% since our Omicron peak,” he tweeted.
He announced that the indoor mask mandate would expire, but not for all Californians.
NEW: CA’s case rate has decreased by 65% since our Omicron peak. Our hospitalizations have stabilized across the state.
Our statewide indoor mask requirement will expire on 2/15.
Unvaccinated people will still need to wear masks indoors.
Get vaccinated. Get boosted.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) February 7, 2022
Unvaccinated people will still be required to wear a mask indoors. The school mask mandate will also stay in effect.
Masks will also still be required regardless of vaccination status in “high-risk” areas like public transit and nursing homes.
People attending indoor “mega-events” with more than 1,000 attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Those who are unvaccinated will still need to wear masks.
Local governments have the authority to maintain indoor masking requirements. Los Angeles County announced last week that it will keep an indoor mask mandate after the state’s mandate expires.
“Omicron has loosened its hold on California, vaccines for children under 5 are around the corner, and access to COVID-19 treatments is improving,” said California Department of Public Health Director 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.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 70% of people in California are fully vaccinated.
California’s announcement came after New Jersey and Delaware announced end dates for several mask requirements.