What Does the New Mask Mandate Mean for the Bay Area?

California Brings Back Temporary Statewide Indoor Mask Mandate as Omicron Cases Rise.

‘We are proactively putting this tool of universal indoor masking in public settings in place to ensure we get through a time of joy and hope without a darker cloud of concern and despair.’ — Dr. Mark Ghaly.

Starting Wednesday, Dec. 15, California will once again require everyone — vaccinated and unvaccinated — to wear masks indoors.

The move is aimed at containing the new highly infectious omicron variant of the coronavirus as people gather with family and friends during the holidays. The temporary mandate will last until Jan. 15.

In the past two weeks, following the Thanksgiving holiday, the per capita rate of new coronavirus cases in California has jumped 47%.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly noted that even a 10% increase in indoor masking can reduce case transmission significantly and encourages better ventilation indoors.

Two more things to be aware of:

• California will order unvaccinated people attending indoor events of 1,000 or more people to have a negative test taken within the past one to two days, depending on the test.
• Travelers who visit or return to California will need to get tested within five days of arrival.

State officials are afraid of a repeat of last winter, when the state averaged more than 100 cases per 100,000 people during a monster winter surge of the virus, and nearly 20,000 people died over eight weeks.

Read the latest news on California’s mask mandate.

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