SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – California health officials said Monday that they were keeping the state’s current mask mandates in place until June 15, giving them additional time to vaccinate Californians before adopting recent guidance by the Centers for Disease Control.
“On June 15, California plans to implement the CDC’s guidelines around masking to allow fully vaccinated Californians to go without a mask in most indoor settings,” state Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a statement. “This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change while we continue our relentless focus on delivering vaccines, particularly in underserved communities.”
June 15 is also the day the state plans to fully reopen the economy.
Ghaly also said the state has made “amazing progress” in the fight against the virus, saying California has administered 34 million vaccines and has case positivity rates that are among the lowest in the nation.
Under current guidance, masks are required in most indoor situations and on public transit, regardless of vaccination status. Outdoors, the fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks except at crowded events. For the unvaccinated, face coverings are required outdoors at “any time physical distancing cannot be maintained.”
Last week, the CDC updated its guidance declared that the fully vaccinated do not need to mask in most indoor and outdoor situations, citing drops in COVID-19 cases and deaths, along with the rise in vaccinations.
“We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the time.
The announcement caught many Bay Area residents, businesses and even local health officials by surprise. Counties have said previously they would wait for guidance from the state before adhering to the CDC’s recommendations.
For some Bay Area residents, June 15th can’t come soon enough.
“California should wake up and get this mask off. I’m really sick of it. I have both my shots,” said one Walmart shopper in Livermore
“I won’t wear my mask. I’ve already been vaccinated, so I feel comfortable,” said another.
Others said they would exercise continuing caution.
“I’ll probably keep mine on, just in case. No one knows. I’d rather be safe than sorry,” said one man.
The intervening four-week period gives Californians and California businesses time to prepare for the change.
Some still feel it’s too soon to go maskless.
“I think for a while just to make sure this pandemic is over. It’s been very devastating,” said one Livermore resident.
Ghaly made it clear California residents should ultimately check with their county for the rules in their region.
“If a county chooses to either further delay that date or require it in other venues and sectors, that is something that can be done by local health officer order,” said Ghaly.
Questions still remain about schools and what will happen if a business decides to continue requiring masks.
Juliette Goodrich contributed to this story.