California Imposes New Indoor Mask Mandate

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California Imposes New Indoor Mask Mandate

Citing a sharp increase in COVID-19 infection rates, California is reimposing a statewide mask mandate on indoor settings for one month, regardless of vaccination status.  California State Health & Human Services (CDPH) announced that beginning Wednesday, December 15, 2021, running through January 15, 2022, mask-wearing will become mandatory in all indoor public settings across California.  The mandate is specific to public settings, not private gatherings, nevertheless health officials recommend people get tested ahead of the holiday gatherings and consider better ventilation by opening windows or convening outdoors when possible.

The CDPH explains that the Omicron variant seems to spread more easily than the original COVID-19 virus and the Delta variant and that additional protection is warranted during the holiday period.  California has seen a 47% increase in COVID-19 case rates across the state since Thanksgiving, jumping from 9.6 cases per 100,000 Californians to now more than 14 per 100,000.  To date, with over 74,000 Californians dying from COVID-19, the CDPH states that even a relatively small increase in indoor masking can help prevent the virus from spreading.

The state is also tightening restrictions on unvaccinated people who attend large public events.  Any person attending an event with more than 1,000 people who cannot show proof of vaccination must now show proof of a negative antigen test within the previous 24 hours or a negative PCR test within the past 48 hours. In addition, the state is recommending; but not requiring, that travelers who enter or return to California get tested within three to five days of their arrival.  When asked about enforcement of the statewide mandate, the CDPH said “We are expecting Californians to heed the warnings and mask up.”

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