With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations declining, Contra Costa County will lift masking requirements on Nov. 1 in certain indoor settings where everyone is fully vaccinated.
Eligible settings are in controlled spaces not open to the general public, including offices, gyms and fitness centers, employee commuter vehicles, indoor college classes and organized gatherings in any other indoor setting, such as a religious gathering.
Under the order, participating businesses, organizations and hosts must verify that all patrons, employees and attendees are fully vaccinated before allowing people inside their facilities not to wear face coverings. There can be no more than 100 persons present at these facilities, and the group of those present must gather on a regular basis. Those present should also not have COVID-19 symptoms.
“This will allow vaccinated people to feel safe removing their masks at the office and when they’re working out at the gym,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County. “Of course, people in these places can keep wearing masks if that makes them feel more comfortable.”
Indoor-masking requirements would remain in effect for the time-being in public settings, such as bars, restaurants and retail stores until other targets are met. Masking would also still be required in indoor K-12 school settings.
Cases and hospitalizations spiked in the summer after the state relaxed restrictions and the highly contagious Delta variant swept through the country.
Dr. Farnitano said masking requirements had to be reinstated in the summer to blunt the impact of the Delta surge and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. With the surge receding, Dr. Farnitano said it makes sense now to lift mask requirements in non-public places like offices and gyms for vaccinated people, who are less likely to get infected with COVID or transmit the virus.
“We’re in a safer place than we were two months ago,” Dr. Farnitano said. “My hope is that two months from now vaccinated people won’t have to wear masks in other places like restaurants, bars and retail stores. The way we get there is for those who remain unvaccinated to get immunized.”
The County will lift its indoor masking requirements for restaurants, bars and retails stores when certain criteria are met, including when 80% of residents are fully vaccinated. As of Thursday, 71.6% of all county residents were fully vaccinated.