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Bay Area Counties Begin Rolling Back Face Covering Requirements

WALNUT CREEK (KPIX) -- Mask rules will be relaxed around the Bay Area on Nov. 1 but not everywhere and not to the same degree. In Walnut Creek for example, a yoga studio across the street may drop that requirement, if they wish. A restaurant or a gift store, however, may not.

"We have become very good at enforcing mask mandates," said Megan DeGoey, owner of Five Little Monkeys toy store.

Masks will stay on at most places in Contra Costa County but gyms, fitness centers, offices and churches can drop those rules on Monday. Marin County will go even further.

"What we are going back to is the state mandates," said Marin public health officer Dr. Matt Willis. "And the state still requires people who are unvaccinated to continue to cover their face."

With more than 80% of its population vaccinated and just two people hospitalized, Marin will drop mask requirements in most settings Monday at noon, including at restaurants.

"So excited," said Nicole Drefs, owner of Marvin's in Novato. "Thrilled!"

Drefs says it will be a welcome change at her restaurant and a hopeful sign that the pandemic is truly nearing some kind of end.

"There's light at the end of the tunnel," she said. "Let's hope so."

But the rule adjustment, as always, comes with a word of caution.

"It's important to note that we're just coming into the winter months," Willis said. "It was this time last year when we started to see that giant winter surge around Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas so, in some ways, if I have any concerns about this, it's that people might assume that the coast is clear and that we don't need to do those things that protect us."

Alameda County will also be easing its masking rules Monday, in alignment with Contra Costa's smaller rollback. Health officials say they will be watching case rates to see if they rise following the changes.

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