Vaccinated individuals can go mask-less indoors across Los Angeles County as soon as this weekend.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a new order today that allows businesses, venues and establishments to drop all masking requirements for staff and customers as long as they can verify that 100 percent of customers (ages 5 and older) and workers are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or can provide proof of a negative test (two days for a PCR test, one day for antigen test for customers; workers can submit negative tests every three days). The order, announced today, goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday.
The rules do not apply to unvaccinated individuals or those who do not show proof of vaccination as they are subject to masking indoors “except when actively eating or drinking.” The department cited lowered hospital admissions and efficacy of vaccines in reducing serious illness as reasons for the revised rules. But the order made it clear that masking is still optional and those who are vulnerable to infection “should continue to layer in all protections possible.”
“When transmission is very high, we need to create the most complete shield we can so that’s why it’s important that we layer in all the protections at hand. As transmission drops and there is less virus circulating, some tools may afford significant protections against the very worst risks associated with COVID,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Public Health director. “Because vaccines are one of these tools, with lower rates of hospital admissions and COVID hospitalizations, it is appropriate in settings verifying vaccination or negative test status, that we transition to strongly recommending masking instead of requiring masking.”
Her department reported 36 additional deaths today and 1,934 new cases of the virus. Of the 36 deaths, 33 had underlying conditions.
News of the revised mask mandate was expected. California relaxed its rules state-wide last week while L.A. County, which has long been an epicenter of the pandemic, maintained more strict protocols. Janice Hahn, Los Angeles County Supervisor, telegraphed the changes yesterday in a tweet, adding that the new health order “puts us significantly closer to aligning with the State.”
The full modified health order can be found here.