On Thursday, officials have announced that LA County will start letting people remove their masks indoors if they are vaccinated as the winter surge caused by the omicron variant continues to ease.
The Golden State’s most populous county is set to relax its public health order on Friday to now allow the non-wearing of masks indoors at many different establishments, including restaurants, bars, and other businesses where people can show their proof of vaccination. Additionally, Employers can allow their workers to remove masks if they’re vaccinated.
All customers still need to prove that they are vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test. Following a statewide rule, unvaccinated customers in California still need to wear masks indoors unless they’re actively eating or drinking.
The city of Los Angeles announced that it will follow Los Angeles County’s lead.
The said county, however, lagged behind the rest of California, which already lifted the mask requirements for vaccinated people for most businesses last week. However, Santa Clara County is still requiring universal indoor masking.
In issuing the new policies, the county’s Public Health Department cited lower COVID-19-related hospitalizations and the vaccine’s effectiveness in “reducing severe illness.”
Around 70% of LA County’s population of 10.3 million people have been fully-vaccinated, while about ⅓ of the residents have had their booster shot.
County officials have recently come under more pressure to ease the requirement. Janice Hahn, a member of the county’s Board of Supervisors, argued last week that the county should follow California’s lead.
“I believe we are beginning to lose the trust of the people,” Hahn tweeted on Feb. 15. “We already saw thousands of people flagrantly violate LA County’s (outdoor) mask mandate at the Super Bowl … Keeping mandates in place that aren’t followed just erodes the credibility the public has in our ability to make good, sound decisions.”
Last week, the Golden State has become the first to formally shift to an “endemic” approach when it comes to handling COVID-19. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the plan that emphasizes prevention and quick response to outbreaks instead of mask mandates and business shutdowns.