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Inland Empire Residents React To Reinstatement Of Mask Mandate

RANCHO CUCAMONGA (CBSLA) - A statewide mask mandate covering all of California was reinstated on Wednesday morning in response to the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide. The mandate, issued on Monday, requires masks in all indoor settings, including restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, grocery stores and more.

However, many residents across California, including those in the Inland Empire, were unaware of the change until they left their homes on Wednesday.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, and a fifth surge approaching, health officials and the California government made a move to "mask up." While Californians got well accustomed to this mandate in 2020 and early 2021, the reinstatement is being met with much more backlash this time around.

For Los Angeles County residents, the only Southern California County with an active mask mandate prior to Wednesday, it's business as usual. But for those in Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Orange Counties these changes are far from welcome. In fact, Orange County residents told CBSLA much of the same on Wednesday in Huntington Beach.

While the mandate is in full effect, plenty of business owners - fed up with the constantly change of circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, aren't planning to enforce the changes at all.

One Rancho Cucamonga gym owner, who preferred to stay off-camera, told CBS reporters that he wasn't going to enforce the mandate, as he believes his customers have a right to decide whether they want to wear a mask or not for themselves.

For Alan Solano, manager of Town Squares Cleaner, also in Rancho Cucamonga, they weren't aware of the reinstated mandate, but still plan to roll with the same strategy: "As far as our customers, if they're wearing it we kinda leave it up to them, so we're not really enforcing it." However, he did say, "Any time we're interacting with a customer we're wearing them."

A very divisive issue over the last 22 months, the enforcement of masks has prompted uproar for some, while others are grateful for the extra layer of security.

Rancho Cucamonga residents Jamie Rios and her husband are happy with the reinstatement, citing their status in high risk groups due to autoimmune disorders as the main reason why leaving their house was unnerving in the first place. But now, with masks set to stay, at least for a little bit, she feels more comfortable running her day-to-day errands.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County reported three new cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the latest variant of the Coronavirus, along with nearly 1,900 new cases (1,850). Of those, almost 800 (770) were in intensive care, with 19 reported deaths.

Orange County reports looked similar, with 314 new infections and 10 fatalities. 200 people were also hospitalized with the virus for the first time in nearly a month.

On December 18, Riverside County reported 1,818 new cases with 12 deaths reported on the December 14.

Health experts disclosed that this sudden spike in cases could stem from any number of things, but most indicators point to the winter season - always a cause for increased illness - on top of holiday gatherings and everything that comes with it, including shopping in crowded spaces.

On top of the mask mandate, California is also requiring unvaccinated people who plan to attend of over 1,000 people - labeled as a "mega-event" to show proof of a negative coronavirus test, and travelers returning to the state must be tested within a few days of their arrival. For those who are vaccinated, anyone over the age of 12 has to show proof of vaccination.

This news comes at almost the exact same time that the state of New York also instituted their own mask mandate, unless a vaccine requirement is present at a particular business or venue.

Many people are skeptical of the expected end date of January 15 in 2022, indicating that this isn't their first, or second rodeo when it comes to mask mandates.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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