Contra Costa to Lift Masking Requirements in Some Indoor Settings on Nov. 1

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.

San Francisco and Marin County recently issued similar orders easing masking requirements as COVID cases and hospitalizations have steadily declined since their peaks in the summer. In Contra Costa County, COVID-related hospitalizations are down to 69 from a summer high of 227 in August. Case rates in the county have seen a similar decline over the past two months.

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.

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Key Amended Text

Amendment. Health Officer Order No. HO-COVID19-51 is hereby amended by adding
subsection h. to Section 4, to read as follows:

h. When in an office, fitness facility, college classroom or employee commuter
vehicle, or in an organized gathering in any other indoor setting, under all the
following conditions:
(1) There are no more than 100 persons present, and the group of persons present
gathers on a regular basis;
(2) The employer, host or organizer verifies that all persons present are fully
vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine;
(3) The employer, host or organizer can control access to the space, and the
space is not open to the general public;
(4) The employer, host or organizer maintains a list of the individuals present;
(5) The employer, host or organizer posts signage prohibiting entry by persons
who have a cough, fever or other symptoms that could be consistent with
COVID-19; and
(6) None of the persons present has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, is
awaiting results of a COVID-19 test, or had a known exposure to a person
infected with the COVID-19 virus within the last 14 days.

Read the full order here.

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