OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Health officials in Alameda County announced that indoor mask requirements will be eased in some settings where all are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, joining several other Bay Area counties.
The new order, which takes effect on November 1, will allow some establishments to ease masking requirements in spaces with 100 or fewer people and where the host has verified all in attendance are fully vaccinated. Alameda County's new rules are similar to those recently enacted in Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma counties.
"Eligible settings are in controlled spaces not open to the general public, including offices, gyms and fitness centers, employee commuter vehicles, and organized gatherings in other indoor settings where a group gathers on a regular basis, like religious gatherings," county officials said in a statement.
County officials said the new rules come as COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases have declined from the recent summer surge, which was driven by the Delta variant.
"Allowing vaccinated people to remove their masks in these limited, controlled settings carries lower risk," health officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said in a statement.
Eligible establishments can still enforce mask mandates indoors and patrons can still wear masks if they prefer.
"If vaccinated people choose to continue wearing masks, they should feel comfortable doing so," Moss said.
Officials stressed that masks continue to be required indoors in public settings such as bars, restaurants and retail stores. Mask requirements also continue in settings covered by state or federal mandates, such as K-12 schools, medical settings and public transit.
County officials said the indoor mask mandate would be lifted if certain criteria is met, including when 80% of all residents are fully vaccinated. As of Wednesday, 71.6% of county residents are fully vaccinated, ahead of expected authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.
"We're looking forward to the day when we can safely remove all masking requirements," Moss said. "To help us get there, we strongly encourage every eligible, unvaccinated person to get vaccinated as soon as possible."
Information about the COVID-19 vaccine and appointment signups can be found by visiting https://covid-19.acgov.org/vaccines.
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