With COVID-19 cases plummeting, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that indoor mask requirements will fall off Feb. 15 – while insisting that unvaccinated people must still wear theirs.
The mask mandate is not being lifted in public schools.
The state will still mandate that all persons who go into higher-risk areas like public buses, trains and nursing homes and assisted living facilities, must wear a mask.
The lifting of the mask requirement does not pre-empt a county or city from continuing with their indoor masking requirements. Last week Los Angeles County’s health officials said they plan to keep the mask requirement there beyond the state deadline.
With coronavirus cases falling fast, California has lifted a requirement that people produce a negative coronavirus test before visiting hospitals and nursing homes, effective immediately.
Gov. Newsom has been seen not wearing a mask indoors and/or in close proximity to others, such as at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa and at the recent LA Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers game in Los Angeles.
Newsom tweeted on Monday: “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.”
The governor’s call for unvaccinated persons to wear masks – even if they have natural immunities after bouts with the virus – is virtually unenforceable.
The state also announced that indoor “mega events” attended by more than 1,000 people must require vaccinations or negative tests for those attending and those who are unvaccinated will be required to wear masks. For outdoor events with more than 10,000 people, there is no vaccination requirement but masks or negative tests are recommended.
Those thresholds increase from the current 500 attendees for indoor and 5,000 attendees for outdoor events. The increased threshold comes after Sunday’s Super Bowl that will draw as many as 100,000 football fans to SoFi Stadium outside Los Angeles.
“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 state Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas J. Aragon. “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 Democrat governor has come under pressure from Republicans and others to ease the mandates. He recently has said California expects the day when the coronavirus can be considered endemic, with rules that accept that it is here to stay but can be managed with caution.
Other states are easing up on their mandates. New Jersey and Delaware announced plans Monday to lift the statewide COVID-19 mask requirement in schools in March. Those states are among a dozen with mask mandates in schools.