Bay Area Health Officers mandate masking up indoors

Effective as of Tuesday, August 3, wearing masks is now required in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status in seven Bay Area counties.

In a joint statement on Monday, the public health officers for the counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Sonoma and for the City of Berkeley announced they have issued new orders mandating the wearing of face coverings indoors. The fast-spreading COVID-19 Delta variant is not only infecting many unvaccinated people, but also a small percentage of vaccinated people who, despite having strong protection against serious illness, could unwittingly spread the virus to others, the health officers said.

“The new Health Orders require wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public settings,” according to their statement. “Indoor settings, whether public or private, are higher risk for COVID-19 transmission, especially when you are with people you do not live with. Health officials also recommend that all employers make face coverings available to individuals entering their businesses, and businesses are required to implement the indoor face covering order.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported information indicating that even fully vaccinated individuals can in some cases spread the Delta variant to others, “and so indoor use of face coverings provides an important added layer of protection,” the Bay Area health officers said. They urged all unvaccinated residents 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as the data indicates that vaccinated people remain strongly protected against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

“Increasing our use of masks is the easiest and best way to protect the health of our community from the Delta variant while still allowing many people to engage in the activities they love,” said Dr. George Han, Deputy Health Officer for Santa Clara County.