What needs to happen for Bay Area counties to lift indoor mask mandates

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Health officers for the nine Bay Area jurisdictions that require face coverings in most indoor public spaces on Thursday released criteria that must be met to lift those health orders and allow businesses to set those requirements independently.

In a press release, officials for the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and the city of Berkeley will lift the indoor masking requirement in public spaces (not subject to state and federal masking rules) when all the following happen:

  • The jurisdiction reaches the moderate (yellow) COVID transmission tier, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and 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
  • 8 weeks have passed since a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by federal and state authorities for 5-11 year-olds.

Most Bay Area health departments issued the masking requirements for their respective jurisdictions on Aug. 3 following a summer surge of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Officials said because regional data is showing the surge now receding, and with the Bay Area one of the most vaccinated regions in the U.S., Bay Area health officers “agree it’s time to plan for a transition.”

“As a safety measure, along with vaccination, face coverings have been key to our success in the Bay Area in reducing transmission and protecting public health,” said Scott Morrow, MD, San Mateo County health officer. “As we look toward lifting the mandate, it’s vital for everyone who has not gotten vaccinated to consider getting vaccinated right away.”

At this time, state health guidance for the use of face coverings will remain in effect after local masking requirements are lifted. This means people who aren’t fully vaccinated for COVID-19 must continue to wear masks in businesses and indoor public spaces.

The state also requires face coverings for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in healthcare facilities, public transit, and adult and senior care facilities. California’s masking guidelines in K-12 schools would also not be affected by changes to local health orders.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee is scheduled to consider an application from Pfizer-BioNTech to grant emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds on October 26.

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