LA County to End Mask Mandate for Outdoor Mega Events, Schools Outdoors

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
February 15, 2022Updated: February 15, 2022

Los Angeles County will lift its mask mandate for outdoor mega-events and for outdoor K–12 schools and childcare centers on Feb. 16—just days after many Super Bowl LVI attendees, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, went unmasked.

On Feb. 16, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county will fall below 2,500 for the seventh consecutive day—reaching the benchmark previously set by LA County Public Health Department Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer for the end of the outdoor mask mandate.

There were 1,995 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county on Tuesday, according to state data.

The end of the county’s outdoor mask mandate will coincide with California’s indoor mask mandate, which ends on Feb. 16.

During a Feb. 15 LA Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn called for the county to align with the state and end indoor mask mandates.

“The outdoor masks requirement will be lifted for our kids on school playgrounds and people attending mega-events, [and] that will be a welcomed change,” Hahn said. “But I still feel it necessary to say that I think we’re making a mistake by not aligning with the state and lifting the indoor mask mandate tomorrow.”

Hahn also said she was bothered by the fact that Ferrer was seen at the Super Bowl among hundreds of thousands of unmasked people—though Ferrer herself remained masked.

“Frankly, Dr. Ferrer … it bothered me a little bit to see you there among people who were going directly against your health order … and it [did] seem like you were okay with it,” Hahn said. “And I think that’s what the public is angry about—businesses, schools, churches were fined or shut down for far less and yet it seems like when we have something high-profile, like the Super Bowl or the Emmys, the rules just don’t seem to matter anymore.”

Epoch Times Photo
Confettis are falling on the field after the Rams’ victory at Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2022. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Hahn said she thinks the county is losing public trust by continuing the indoor mask mandate, adding that “we’re hearing a lot from parents who are very frustrated.”

“Keeping mandates in place that aren’t followed just erodes the credibility the public has in us as policymakers to make good sound decisions,” Hahn said. “I think the longer we drag our feet on lifting the indoor mask mandate, the more out of step we get from the state and the more trust that we lose from our public.”

Ferrer responded by saying the county relied on attendees showing proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests before entry.

“We’ve layered in additional protections, knowing full well that our masking requirements allows people when they’re eating and drinking to not keep the mask on,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer said the county’s indoor mask mandate will continue until the county’s case numbers remain at “moderate” levels below 730 a day for two consecutive weeks.

If the county’s case rates continue to decline as they are now, Ferrer said, “moderate” levels will be reached by March 16, meaning the indoor mask requirement could be lifted by March 30.

“The issue is one of timing,” Ferrer said, adding that she understands the desire to unmask, but that masks are a critical level of protection during times of high transmission rates.

Supervisors Holly Mitchell, Hilda Solis, and Sheila Kuehl are still in support of Ferrer’s decision to leave the indoor mandate in place.

A sign reminds people masks are for everyone in Los Angeles, Calif. on July 19, 2021. (Frederic J.Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said on Feb. 14 that the state’s mask mandate for students may be lifted pending a Feb. 28 reassessment of COVID-19 case rates.

Ghaly noted, however, that individual counties or school districts could still require masks in schools after the state lifts its mandate.

Bipartisan parent group Outraged LA Parents expressed frustration with both the state and county’s delay to end mask mandates “by continuing to impose harmful rules on our least vulnerable population [children] so that they can continue to do whatever they want.”

The group said if Ferrer was concerned about COVID-19 spread outdoors, she would have skipped the Super Bowl.

“Instead she sat there adjusting her mask repeatedly, surrounded by maskless fans, and did absolutely nothing about it,” the group said. “And the next day, parents across Los Angeles sent their children back to school fully masked, subject to discipline for violation, and again exacerbating learning loss, mental anguish, anxiety, and loneliness.”

San Diego County announced on Feb. 15 it would also lift its outdoor mask mandate for schools.

A spokesperson for the LA County Department of Public Health did not respond to a request for comment by press time.