Medical Technology

California Exempts San Francisco From COVID Indoor Mask Rule

Editor’s Note: Search the latest COVID-19 news on Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California is exempting San Francisco from a rule that goes into effect on Wednesday and requires everyone to wear masks indoors in an effort to limit the alarming increase in new coronavirus cases.

San Francisco will continue to allow fully vaccinated people to remove their masks at gyms and workplaces while its general masking mandate remains in place the city’s Department of Public Health announced.

“It’s an acknowledgement of the thought and effort that San Francisco residents have been making to be as secure as they can,” said Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s health officer.

According to the public health department 86% of the eligible San Francisco residents received at least one dose of vaccinations.

San Francisco businesses were relieved that the city is permitting fully vaccinated people to go maskless in some indoor locations.

“To be able to have any disruption in the progress that we’ve made over the past year and to have half of it not getting customers back was devastating,” Dave Karraker (co-owner of MX3 Fitness) told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Many other San Francisco Bay Area counties also had a relaxed masking policy for vaccinated people but it wasn’t immediately clear whether the state would be exempt from them from the rules, too.

California’s statewide mandate to remove masks from those who have been vaccinated was lifted on June 15, which that Gov. Gavin Newsom was the herald of the state’s grand opening.

Health officials are concerned about the spread of the latest COVID-19 variant omicron Health officials believe could spread more quickly than the delta and original strains. The virus is particularly damaging the unvaccinated.

The new rule will remain in effect until Jan. 15 and is intended to lower the risk of COVID-19 for family members and friends who travel or stay indoors during holidays.

Officials haven’t yet defined how they will operate and have acknowledged that a lot will depend on voluntary compliance.

After California lifted its indoor mask mandate for all residents this summer, the county governments that cover roughly half of the state’s population, imposed their own mandates as case rates soared as new versions were introduced.

According to the state Department of Public Health, the order comes as the average for seven days of cases of coronavirus in the state has jumped 47% since Thanksgiving. Hospitalizations have also increased by 14%.

This is still a far from the soaring cases that occurred last winter prior to the introduction of vaccines. In the same period, there were more than 100 cases per 100,000, and more than 20,000 deaths in eight weeks.

The health department has stated that, even though more than 70 percent of Californians are currently fully vaccinated however, there are still low vaccination rates in certain areas of California , which could put communities at a greater risk for the coronavirus.

The department stated that even a small increase in hospitalizations and other cases could have an impact on the state’s health care system in specific areas of the state given the current hospital census.

California joins other states that have similar indoor mask laws to Washington, Oregon, Illinois and New Mexico.

California is also tightening current testing requirements by ordering unvaccinated people attending indoor events of 1,000 or more to take an unfavorable test within one or two days depending on the kind of test. California is also encouraging travelers who visit or return to California to be tested for blood within five days.

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