Criteria announced for Bay Area counties to lift indoor mask mandates

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco officials on Thursday shared a path towards lifting the indoor mask mandate as soon as next week.

According to Mayor London Breed and the county health department, indoor masking requirements will be lifted on October 15 in specific limited settings, as long as COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates remain stable or decline.

This includes:

  • Offices
  • Gyms/fitness centers
  • Employee commuter vehicles
  • Religious gatherings
  • Indoor college classes
  • Other organized gatherings of people who meet regularly (fewer than 100 people)

“People in these settings may remove their masks if the employer or host of the gathering can control access to the setting and verify 100% full vaccination of everyone in the setting,” the news release said. “The employer or host must also ensure proper ventilation, no recent COVID-19 outbreaks, and children under 12 and guests are not present, among other safety measures.”

Only people who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to remove their face mask in these situations, due to California’s statewide health guidance which says people who are not vaccinated must wear masks in businesses and indoor public spaces. 

Indoor masking continues however in places like retail stores, and other shared indoor areas accessed by the wider public, San Francisco officials said. This includes common spaces like building elevators, lobbies and restrooms.

People also still must wear masks inside San Francisco bars and restaurants except when actively eating or drinking.

“Even as masking restrictions lift, indoor masking will remain in effect where required under state or federal rules, like public transportation, hospitals, jails, homeless shelters, and schools, as a recommendation for everyone to wear in large, crowded outdoor settings, and as a requirement under certain circumstances if there is an outbreak of cases,” according to the news release.

Bay Area health officials joined together to come up with a plan to lift indoor mask mandates in other situations as well, as long as it doesn’t impede with state and federal masking rules.

The counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma will lift the indoor masking requirement when:

  • The jurisdiction reaches the moderate (yellow) COVID-19 transmission tier, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and remains there for at least three weeks; AND
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in the jurisdiction are low and stable, in the judgment of the health officer; AND
  • 80% of the jurisdiction’s total population is fully vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson (booster doses not considered)

OR

Eight weeks have passed since a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by federal and state authorities for 5- to 11-year-olds.

This plan comes as health officials say the Bay Area is one of the most vaccinated regions in the country, and a COVID-19 surge appears to be declining.

The local health orders will be limited by the statewide health orders that the California Department of Health has in place.

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