California is ending the indoor masking requirement for vaccinated people on Wednesday as the state sees declining COVID-19 case rates and hospitalization numbers.
Los Angeles County residents, however, have to keep masking up indoors — regardless of vaccination status.
The statewide indoor masking requirement expires Tuesday, moving the state back to previous guidance that mandates face coverings only for unvaccinated people in all indoor public settings, like shops, gyms, bars and movie theaters.
Masks will become only “strongly recommended” indoors for vaccinated people, but not required.
Meanwhile, masks will still be required for everyone — regardless of vaccination status — at settings like buses, subways, train stations, hospitals, homeless shelters and other congregate living areas.
California is also keeping its school masking requirements in place at least through the end of the month, but officials said they will reassess on Feb. 28 and make an announcement.
Currently, California students and teachers have to mask up indoors at K-12 schools statewide. In L.A. County, masks are also required outdoors at schools.
Here’s where masks will and won’t be required by California starting Wednesday:
|Masks required||Masks not required|
|– For unvaccinated people inside all indoor public settings like shops, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers and government offices|
– On public transit like planes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares
– In transportation hubs like airports, bus terminals, marinas, train stations, seaports or other ports, subway stations
– Indoors at K-12 schools and childcare centers
– Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers
– Health care settings
– State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
– Homeless shelters
– Long term care settings and senior care facilities
|– For fully vaccinated people inside all indoor public settings like shops, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers and government offices|
– For children younger than 2 years old
Businesses throughout California may choose to keep asking patrons to mask up, even when the state no longer requires it.
What about L.A. County?
While the state is loosening its mask requirements, local jurisdictions can still opt to keep stricter rules.
That’s exactly what Los Angeles County is doing.
L.A. County is keeping its mask mandate for vaccinated people after the state drops its mandate, but has a plan for loosening requirements that depends on the county hitting specific hospitalization and case numbers.
That is still “weeks” away, L.A. County Health Director Ferrer said last week.
“We should not be lifting a masking mandate when we’re reporting thousands and thousands of new cases every day,” Ferrer told county supervisors last week. “That doesn’t make sense to us.”
The statewide mask mandate had been lifted last year and reinstated in December due to the spread of the highly-contagious omicron variant. Meant to last just one month, officials later extended the mandate through February as the surge brought record-breaking infection numbers.
What else is changing?
Also changing after Tuesday: How the state defines for “mega” events like sporting events and concerts.
During the surge, the state made it so that indoor events of 500 people were considered “mega” events that require COVID-19 vaccine verification.
Definitions will go back to pre-surge guidance, meaning that only indoor events of 1,000 or more attendees will be required to check for vaccine status or negative coronavirus test results.
But L.A. will still require vaccine verification at small indoor events with fewer than 500 attendees, and L.A. County requires it at outdoor events of 5,000 or more attendees.