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Report: New Health Order Would Allow Vaccinated People To Take Masks Off Indoors

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County is reportedly set to issue a new Health Order that will allow vaccinated individuals to remove their masks indoors within places that check for proof of vaccination, according to Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Should the move be announced by the Department of Public Health, it would supposedly go into effect beginning on Friday.

When approached for comment, the Department of Public Health issued a statement to CBS which read:

"As mentioned last week, Public Health is considering possible options for lifting indoor masking protections earlier at sites where there are other additional layers of protection, such as vaccination verifications. Tomorrow, Public Health will provide additional information about the new Health Office Order, which will take effect Friday."

As expected, the highly divisive topic was met with varying opinions, even as cases continue to decline across Los Angeles County on a daily basis.

"I'm actually excited about it. I've been waiting for it," said one Angeleno who spoke with CBS reporters Tuesday.

Hannah Sutton, a restaurant server, was in line with that train of thought, noting how "it'll make people more happy, it'll be less for us to regulate.

"People can come and go as they want without getting reprimanded," she continued.

Regardless, some Angelenos feel that the move may be a little premature, especially with how rapidly the Omicron variant was able to take storm of the world in the span of a two-week period, which ended up lasting for several months.

Sandra Pineda, another Los Angeles resident said that even though the move might be made official as soon as Friday she still isn't quite ready for the change. "I think I'll still have to wait a little bit," she said.

And some, were right in the middle of the debate, happy about the potential facial freedom, but still willing to take preventative steps if necessary.

"I want to keep my precautions. I'll layer up if I have to, but I'm glad it's easing up a little bit," said another man who spoke with CBS reporters Tuesday.

Director Barbara Ferrer noted in early February that the county would reconsider their guidelines, based on a set of factors that must be met. Among those factors, were less than 2,500 hospitalizations for a week-straight, and a "moderate" transmission rate. Now, almost 20 days later, and it looks like that move may finally be coming.

Health experts agree with the precaution that L.A. County has taken, especially with the record-setting numbers that were reported on what seemed to be a day-to-day basis in January.

"They've tied all of their changes and policy to metrics, and that's the right thing to do," said Dr. Anne Rimoin, a Professor of Epidemiology at UCLA. "As we see cases come down, they're going to start to loosen restrictions."

She said that thus far the County has made all the right moves with the safety of the public in mind. But even as cases dwindle and mandates get lifted, she doesn't think people everywhere should ditch the masks just yet.

"The burden of protecting yourself as an individual is really going to fall on you. People are going to have to be really thoughtful," she continued.

This reported move comes exactly a week after the State of California removed their indoor mask mandate, which had been in place for two months - since Dec. 15 the same day that Los Angeles County withdrew their mask requirements in regards to outdoor mega-events.

It also comes on the same day that the Los Angeles Unified School District lifted their outdoor mask requirement for all students and staff, across all district campuses.

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