Two counties — Contra Costa and Alameda — will be rolling back masking requirements on Monday, joining other counties in the Bay Area that have already started relaxing mask rules.
Alameda County announced Thursday that it would would start easing masking requirements on Nov. 1 in specific indoor settings in which everyone is fully vaccinated. The eligible settings pertain to “controlled spaces not open to the general public” and include gyms and fitness centers, offices, commuter vehicles and indoor group gatherings, such as religious services.
Businesses and organizations must confirm that all workers, patrons and attendees are fully vaccinated before they’re allowed to forgo masks inside, no one can have COVID-19 symptoms and there can’t be more than 100 people at the facility at a time. Proof of vaccination can be verified through a vaccination card issued by the CDC, a copy or photo of the vaccination card, vaccination documentation from a health care provider or a digital COVID-19 vaccine record issued by California.
Contra Costa County officials said on Oct. 14 that they will also ease masking requirements beginning Nov. 1 in certain controlled spaces that aren’t open to the general public, including offices, gyms, indoor college classes, employee commuter vehicles and organized events such as religious gatherings, just as long as everyone shows proof that they’re fully inoculated.
Similar to Alameda County’s new masking guidelines, participating businesses and organizations in Contra Costa County will have to verify that all patrons, employees and attendees are fully vaccinated before people are allowed inside without masks. There can’t be more than 100 people present in the facilities, the group “must gather on a regular basis,” and those present also can’t have COVID-19 symptoms, according to the health order.
Contra Costa County and Alameda County’s current masking rules will remain in effect for bars, restaurants, retail stores and other public areas that allow the general public to gather indoors. Mask requirements will also stay in effect for K-12 public schools for both counties.
Bay Area health officers previously outlined criteria for counties to lift indoor masking rules, including:
- The county must reach the “moderate” (yellow) transmission tier of COVID-19 case rates as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data tracker and remains there for three weeks.
- COVID-10 hospitalizations are “low and stable.”
- 80% of the county’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or eight weeks have elapsed since a COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for 5 to 11 year olds for emergency use by authorities.
San Francisco and Marin counties eased masking requirements beginning Oct. 15 in certain indoor settings with less than 100 people in which everyone is fully vaccinated, including gyms, offices, fitness centers, college classes, employee commuter vehicles and religious gatherings. Sonoma County relaxed masking rules beginning Oct. 21 in certain indoor settings under similar conditions.
San Mateo County reached the “moderate” yellow tier on Oct. 14. In order to qualify for the yellow tier, a county must have less than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days. As of Friday, San Mateo County has 83.9% of its eligible population fully vaccinated and has 49.18 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.
Marin County entered the yellow tier indicating “moderate” transmission on October 13 and if it stays there for three weeks, it could lift its indoor mask mandate for all public places. The county has 47.14 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days and 88.5% of its eligible population is fully vaccinated as of Friday, according to the CDC.
A panel advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended on Tuesday that the agency grant emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old. The recommendations made by the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee aren’t binding but are usually followed by the FDA in the next few days.