California’s statewide indoor mask mandate requirement will expire on Feb. 15 for vaccinated residents, officials announced on Feb. 7, citing a decline in Omicron virus variant cases.
Unvaccinated residents will still be required to mask up indoors, along with those in certain statewide facilities, such as health care settings and K–12 schools.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the end to the mandate Feb. 7 on Twitter, noting that the COVID-19 positivity rate in the state has decreased by 65 percent and hospitalizations have stabilized.
The move will have no immediate impact in Los Angeles County, which has a local indoor mask-wearing requirement in place. But the state’s move means the requirement will be lifted in counties that don’t have a mask mandate, such as Orange, San Diego, and Riverside counties.
The requirements for all residents regardless of vaccination status to wear a mask indoors began in December 2021. While the mask mandate was originally set to expire on Jan. 15, it was extended to Feb. 15 after a holiday-fueled surge in cases.
The announcement comes a week after Newsom, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed were seen posing maskless with NBA star Magic Johnson at the Jan. 30 National Football Conference Championship game.
State leaders and residents were quick to criticize the political leaders, calling for them to terminate the state of emergency.
“If we can have a major NFL game in California with 80,000 people in the stands and be fine, I don’t see where the emergency is,” Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.
Newsom was quick to defend himself at a Jan. 31 press conference insisting he was “judicious.”
“Magic was kind enough, generous enough to ask me for a photograph, and in my hand’s the mask. … The rest of the time, I wore it as we all should.”
Garcetti also defended himself at a Feb. 2 press conference, stating that he held his breath when photos were taken.
“I wore my mask the entire game and when people ask for a photograph, I hold my breath,” he said. “There’s a zero-percent chance of infection from that.”
Those attending the Super Bowl game between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals on Feb. 13 will still be required to mask up.
Mayor London Breed wasn’t immediately available for comment.