Mask Mandate

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative

Contra Costa Health Services has announced a relaxing of mask mandates, effective Nov. 1, in certain indoor settings where everyone is fully vaccinated.

“Under the order, participating businesses, organizations and hosts must verify that all patrons, employees and attendees are fully vaccinated before allowing people inside their facilities not to wear face coverings,” the department said in a press release. “There can be no more than 100 persons present at these facilities, and the group of those present must gather on a regular basis. Those present should also not have COVID-19 symptoms.”

 The change in mask policies will not apply to all settings, but to places not open to the general public, such as offices or gyms and fitness centers where memberships are required to enter. Organized gatherings such as religious services and indoor college classes are also eligible settings for the relaxed guidelines. 

 “This will allow vaccinated people to feel safe removing their masks at the office and when they’re working out at the gym,” Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County, said in the release. “Of course, people in these places can keep wearing masks if that makes them feel more comfortable.”

 Indoor masking requirements in public settings such as retail stores, restaurants and bars will not be impacted by the Nov. 1 change and will remain in effect until other criteria, such as a county-wide vaccination rate of 80%, are met according to the press release. As of Oct. 14, the public health department stated 71.6% of Contra Costa County residents were fully vaccinated. 

 Indoor settings at K-12 schools will also be unaffected by the change and will continue to require indoor masking for students and faculty. 

 “We’re in a safer place than we were two months ago,” Farnitano said. “My hope is that two months from now, vaccinated people won’t have to wear masks in other places like restaurants, bars and retail stores. The way we get there is for those who remain unvaccinated to get immunized.”