California lifts indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people

California hates to feel left out. So with all the other states playing Russian Roulette with masks, we decided we wanted in. As of yesterday, California lifted the indoor mask mandate for all vaccinated people. Kids in K-12 will be required to wear mask inside classrooms, but they will be allowed to remove them outside the classroom. They will reassess the need for students to keep masks on inside in two weeks. The new rules do allow for individual counties to make their own mask rules though. So counties can choose to continue to enforce masks in their area.

California health officials will lift the statewide COVID-19 indoor mask mandate in public settings for vaccinated people on Feb.16 at 12:01 a.m. Children, however, are still required to keep their masks on at school for at least another two weeks.

Health & Human Services Agency Sec. Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Monday in a press conference that the state will reassess the current mask requirement for schools on Feb. 28.

Most Southern California counties, with the exception of Los Angeles County, will follow the state’s lead and lift their indoor mask mandates as omicron cases decrease. Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties will lift universal mask requirements for most indoor public settings beginning Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Some officials argue that COVID’s spread has also waned significantly across the region and that relaxing mask requirements is part of a shift toward a “new normal” of living with the virus rather than attempting to snuff out its spread completely.

Public health officials, however, are still encouraging indoor mask use.

“As we move from a requirement to a strong recommendation, I keep saying it that way because it’s important to understand that we’re not lifting a masking concept in California. We aren’t going from masks one day, don’t mask the next,” Ghaly said.

[From ABC News]

Woo-hoo! The timing is perfect. I mean, it’s not like we just had a national super spreader event with hundreds of thousands of people from every state packed in one space in one of our most populated cities. What could go wrong? And California knows what we’re doing too. Remember that we got out in front of COVID at the very beginning. We took extreme measures and bent the curve before that was every thought possible. And as soon as those numbers went down, we opened our doors like a department store on Black Friday, leading to infected rates so terrifying, out EMTs were forced to make in-home triage assessment due to lack of hospital beds. So excuse me if I don’t jump for joy about the masks coming off. Because despite Mark Ghaly’s claim that, “we aren’t going from masks one day, don’t mask the next,” that’s exactly what we’re going to do. My friend and I got a bite to eat before our movie on Tuesday. We decided to sit at the bar because we had a whole side to ourselves. A guy approached us maskless and he extended his hand to shake ours. We just stared at his hand as if we didn’t know what it was – who does that today? And I love a good handshake, like actually miss them. But I don’t know who you are or why you are standing a foot from my face, inside, without a mask on. Get out of here so I can take my mask off and finish my wine, you dolt!

LA County said they’re sticking with indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccinated status. LA city might enforce it, but I doubt my city will, even though we are LA county. Masks will start disappearing is my guess. I think we have a pretty high vaccination rate, so that’s good. But I just got a second letter this month that my son has been exposed to COVID from school. I’m not worried for myself. My circle and my kids’ circles are conscientious. They are all vaccinated and wear their masks the entire time they hang out together. But I worry about the other people out there, the ones who don’t get to be as selective with whom they spend time with. I’ll wear my mask until our numbers are negligible. It’s not impinging my life in any way and if it’s keeping me and the folks around me safe, great.

Photo credit: Backgrid

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59 Responses to “California lifts indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people”

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  1. Lauren Too says:

    Because of course novaxxers are going to keep wearing their masks as they have been doing since the beginning of the pandemic. Yes. Of course. Great decision Cali.

    • Jan90067 says:

      I was just coming to say the same thing: the “honor” system worked SO WELL at the beginning, didn’t it (SMDH). Now all of these places here (INCL, DISNEYLAND, will have this “honor” system in place (ie: no mask for vaxxed in park). Like the unvaxxed are going to wear a mask if they’re not forced to to gain entry?? Please, pull the other one!

      I live in the Westside (WLA), and I (and my family) will STILL wear our masks in crowded places outside, and going into stores etc. It’s a minor “inconvenience” to keep ourselves AND *OTHERS* safe.

  2. HelloDolly! says:

    Parents of children under 5 are screaming into the oblivion right now. I am so irritated. My son is 3 and cannot be vaxxed!

    • Anne says:

      Joining in that scream. My daughter is 2. We live in the Bay Area and all the diligent masking has kept us feeling like we can be reasonably out and about. Sigh.

      • Abby says:

        I really really really wish they’d kept mask mandates until the under 5 kids could be vaccinated. I’m so sorry.

    • Scal says:

      Right?! Couldn’t we wait until the under 5s get vaccinated? Have we learned nothing from the last two variants? Relax mask mandates and the 2 months later back where we started….

      • HelloDolly! says:

        Removing the mask mandate honestly affects our everyday life. For example, my husband and I felt comfortable bringing our masked 3 year old to the grocery store when everyone else was masked. If everyone is NOT wearing masks, however, that changes things. I am not sure I feel comfortable bringing my masked but unvaxxed toddler into an enclosed space where everyone is not masked!

        And It’s so easy to wear masks for just a couple more months–why push it? I hate that public health has been so politicized.

    • mander says:

      Seriously! What are they thinking? Guess the under 5s are expendable. Jesus Christ. On a another note, we had a White Supremacy protest on our local overpass this weekend. But California is supposed to be a bunch of lefties right?

    • Libby says:

      Completely feel you! My son is 2 and us parents of kids under 5 have been completely left alone to fend for ourselves this whole time. There are no vaccines yet, they’re taking away the 1 protection we have with our kids (masks), and there is ZERO support. If my son’s preschool class gets exposed, it’s closed for 10 days, no test to return scenario. And I just have to deal with it, I don’t get time off for this. My husband and I already dealt with a 6 WEEK CLOSURE from December through January, both while working full time. I don’t know how to describe how we feel anymore!

  3. Cessily says:

    I wear a mask every where I was spit on in a pharmacy line for doing so not to long ago, but I will continue even if it offends the selective sensibilities of the ignorant.

    So the photos? Is that Bens daughter?

    • Millennial says:

      Cessily I don’t know if you meant that as a joke or not, but it’s funny af because it’s his ex girlfriend Ana DeArmas. They were a big thing during the sourdough era of the pandemic.

    • Cat says:

      Ha! Cessily, I thought the same thing when I saw the header pic on the home page & realized when I opened the link.

      • Lexluthorblack says:

        This is a horrible idea. The vaccinated still TRANSMITS Covid-19 especially the omicron variant and it’s siblings. If it keeps spreading, we will continue to get MORE variants. Mask mandates should continue.

    • Cessily says:

      Sorry, I don’t really follow celebrities except on this site which I started following for the Royal/Sussex coverage. I’ve never seen her before. I really thought it might be his daughter.. 🤣. Thank you for the clarification 💐

    • Tiffany:) says:

      That’s terrible that you were spit on! I’m so sorry that happened to you. The past few years, people have really shown their worst selves.

      • Cessily says:

        I made a huge mistake of moving to a state I have nothing in common with politically, without realizing how awful it would be. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the unhinged crazy that has been unleashed. I will be moving soon.

  4. Heather says:

    I live in a deeply red state 🙄 and our Governor wouldn’t put a mask mandate in place 🙄. When I go out, I’m one of the very few who wear a mask. I’m now going to be a lifer masker. I have come to really appreciate them. No makeup. Hides my facial expressions. And it protects me from all manner of disease. Check ✔️ Check ✔️ Check ✔️

    • thaisajs says:

      I used to live in a purple-ish state but now Virginia has gone back to being solidly red and — not surprisingly — our mask mandates are gone. I’m with you on the masks. Until community transmission falls pretty far from where it is around here right now (we’re still in the red zone), my daughter and I will keep wearing our masks. We’re both vaxxed but it’s just not worth chancing it at this point given omicron is still circulating widely around here.

      I understand people are tired of the pandemic, but pretending it’s over because you’re sick of it isn’t a recipe for success. I’m all for losing the masks but not until local conditions warrant it.

  5. Becks1 says:

    I think the issue is that all these states removing mask mandates assume that people are going to be responsible and if they’re not vaccinated, they will wear a mask. Personally, I assume that everyone I see without a mask is not vaccinated, and everyone with a mask is vaccinated. I just don’t know anyone who refuses to get the vaccine but is willing to wear a mask.

    Disney removes their mask mandate this week – for vaccinated people – and asks that unvaccinated people continue to wear a mask. But they’re not checking vaccination status (I know they can’t in Florida) and of course so many of the comments I saw on disney blogs and disney IG accounts were things like “hahahah, yes, so no mask” and people just openly admitting that they weren’t vaccinated but were going to lie about it.

    So that seems reassuring. /s

  6. Tootsie McJingle says:

    I just don’t feel comfortable with this yet and I’m not sure when I will. My 6 and 7 year olds are vaxxed but of course my 6 month olds aren’t. I was vaccinated while pregnant with them but I know that wanes eventually and they’ll be unprotected again. This feels more like bowing to pressure than actually being ready to drop masks.

  7. Abby says:

    Sigh. We just booked a trip to the Bay Area for spring break next month. My husband and I had told our 6 and 8 year olds once they got their vaccines that we would be able to travel again. Our 8 year old has been requesting to go to Monterey Bay Aquarium. So since my SIL’s fam lives in the SF area ( but not indefinitely) we booked our flight. I was feeling good because of the mask mandates in CA versus here in Texas. So that’s disappointing. I bet the aquarium will still have mask requirements though. Most science-y places we have been with our kids in the last year (even in Texas) like the McDonald Observatory have been serious about masks despite government regulations.

    However. I have been monitoring the case levels, and my husband and I have been considering loosening our family protocols once cases get down to a lower rate in our area. Right now they’re still high but steeply diving down. I think in a few weeks we will be in a really good place here in Texas. Don’t want to jinx it!!

    I’m rambling. All that to say; we haven’t had mandates in Texas in a year. It’s been hard, especially for the school setting where our kids are some of the few people wearing masks. Personally for our family, we got KN95/KN94 masks that protect better than cloth. And we are vaccinated. I have expended all the energy I can to care about other people who’s Covid choices don’t match my family’s decisions. We are just doing the best we can to care for our family and the vulnerable friends/family we spend time with. And I look forward to when cases go down even further.

    • Anne says:

      Bay Area has really high vaccination rates and I’m sure big spaces like the aquarium will still have mask mandates in place. We spend 10 days a month in Bay Area and I feel super safe up there. Everyone very conscientious. Rest of the month we are in Santa Barbara and although vaccination rates are lower everyone in SB wears a mask.

  8. Wiglet Watcher says:

    If you travel or go places unnecessarily you will potentially expose yourself to the virus. It’s not just the masks that keep you safe. It’s staying away from crowds.
    This is a fact of life now.

  9. Sugarskulls says:

    Live in the Bay Area, went to Target yesterday and every single person in the store was still wearing a mask. Target was looping on the PA that they require masks and will give you shopping options (like stay the fuck out of the store and use curbside pick up instead). You can’t go into a restaurant or movie in Oakland without proof of vaccination. Just because we have no state mandate doesn’t mean individual, private spaces have to let you go maskless. It’s fine here in the Bay Area, we are still doing good, cases are down and people are not being total maskless jerks.

    • Abby says:

      This is really good news. I already commented on it but, our first flying trip as a family since before the pandemic, we decided to go to the Bay Area next month. Of the many reasons (family in Oakland, friends in the area, attractions, etc) the high rate of masking as a cultural thing was a factor! I am glad!

    • Bean says:

      I’m in Berkeley/Oakland and everyone is still wearing masks. Even outdoors at the nursery (plant nursery).

  10. tmbg says:

    Our mask mandate expired too. Everyone seems just thrilled about it. I’m really at the point where I loathe 90% of humanity. I don’t know what’s wrong with people these days. My mom is a baby boomer and told me yesterday that she got measles before the vaccine and how miserable it was. She said people back then were thrilled when the measles vax came out.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I darned near died from the measles at age 6. The vaccine is a wonderful improvement for humanity so that people don’t have to go through what I did–or more importantly, what my mother did in caring for me/worrying about me. Vaccinations save lives, I just don’t understand this willful ignorance.

  11. Twin Falls says:

    BenAna BenAna BenAna lol

    I guess all the restrictions are slowly being pulled back everywhere? Our county has removed proof of vaccination for restaurants etc. We still have statewide indoor mask mandates but we’re supposed to have an announcement on changes to that soon.

  12. Bettyrose says:

    Also in the Bay Area. And by coincidence had chosen yesterday to run errands. Customers everywhere wore masks but at the bank AND at the pharmacy the staff were maskless. Behind thick plastic barriers but still exposed to one another. 🤷🏻‍♀️

  13. Nurse Anne says:

    Long time reader first time commenter. It struck me a super odd that you are in one sentence advocating for the responsible behavior of your fellow human and throwing shade toward the random dude who wanted to shake your hand in a restaurant, yet you were in the restaurant yourself. Unmasked. Eating and drinking. Or maybe just drinking, you didn’t specify. It strikes me as disingenuous that you are in a public place, willingly unmasked, but criticizing others for walking into said establishment unmasked. The whole point of a restaurant is to participate in behaviors that can only be done without a mask. Perhaps I’m just jealous that you are willingly in a restaurant since I have been unwilling to go since the weather forced us inside many months ago. As a profession, we are EXHAUSTED. If you want to help the Covid numbers – by all means wear your mask, keep your bubble small etc. But it’s a mistake to think that youre being heroic at a bar when you refuse to shake someone’s hand. Eating and drinking indoors are the number #1 way to get and spread Covid. Good luck.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Restaurants and bars require proof of vaccinations and enable social distancing with your group. While staying masked away from your group. Approaching a stranger maskless and wanting to touch them violates our new unwritten but pretty obvious social code.

      • MFm says:

        Unfortunately, the requirement for proof of vaccination has been enforced well in LA (in my experience).

        There’s also the fact that vaccinated people can still spread the virus, and if you’re vaxxed but not boosted, you have very little protection against Omicron.

      • Nurse Anne says:

        Betty Rose –
        My coworker and her son are fully backed and boosted and just tested positive yesterday. Not every state requires proof of vaccination to dine out. As a public health nurse, I am here to tell you that your vaccination card is only a piece of paper. It doesn’t protect you or anyone else from Covid. It just makes you less likely to get really sick.

      • Nurse Anne says:

        I would also like to respectfully point out that “social distancing” may help a *tiny* bit, but it’s an airborne virus. Many, many more aerosols are released when chewing, laughing, and socializing with friends etc. I think people convince themselves that they’re being responsible to help create a permission structure to go back to living their life. Just live your life – but understand you may get Covid doing it. Espousing that you are “being so careful” guess what – it literally doesn’t matter. Again – I am a public health nurse. I literally do contact tracing and make the phone calls and study this stuff. If you’re going to get Covid – trust me – you will. It’s all a matter of the viral load you’re exposed to and how good your immune system is at tackling it once it’s in your nose.

      • Bettyrose says:

        These are all good points. I’m just saying that the unmasked guy who approached *and wanted to touch* her was being especially careless and selfish. And just because one is at a bar with a friend does not make it okay that a stranger violated their bubble.

    • MF says:

      NurseAnne, while I think your comment is a little strongly worded, I basically agree.

      It makes zero sense to advocate for a mask mandate when you’ve been eating indoors at restaurants and bars. I recall reading somewhere that people who’ve eaten at indoor restaurants are 40% more likely to contract COVID.

      This is especially frustrating because most of CA (including LA county, where the writer lives) has good weather that will allow for outdoor dining during the winter.

      • Anne says:

        Yes, I live in Santa Barbara and only eat outside. Very grateful that we have the temperate climate that allows that. We also spend time in Bay Area and although it’s colder up there we just snuggle up to the heat lamps outside. I’m actually wondering if I ever want to eat inside again. We used to love to go sit at the bar and eat at a few places here, but sounds way too cozy right now (and maybe forever).

    • Emma says:

      I also work in public health (not as a nurse) and I work directly with COVID-19 clinics for the state.

      The vaccination card is never “just a slip of paper.” Vaccination is hugely important for public health. However, I agree that unfortunately with Omicron, we cannot by any means afford to relax yet on protective measures such as high-quality PPE, social distancing, staying home when possible, etc.

      We have seen people fully boosted and vaxxed still catch cases ranging from asymptomatic to life-threatening.

      We have seen people reinfected right away with COVID and 20-30% of people are still infectious *after* the five-day CDC-recommended isolation period.

      Children are less at risk of severe disease or death, BUT as we all know they can be vectors. So I also disagree with any relaxation of school mask mandates.

      The Omicron wave IS subsiding, but these political moves are very premature. I would never advise anyone who’s at risk to travel or eat out. Anyone can catch COVID and it’s an ever-present danger.

      • DiegoInSF says:

        A “nurse” saying a vaccination card is just a slip of paper, yeah one that prevents severe illness and death??
        You can be cautious and still live your life.

    • Tiffany:) says:

      I am mystified by people that feel comfortable dining inside. I think it’s being “allowed” because the gov’t doesn’t want to be too restrictive…but that doesn’t mean it is actually safe. People desperately want it to be safe, but it’s just not.

      Even though I am vaccinated and boosted, I’m still trying really hard not to catch it because of the Long COVID cases. We still don’t fully understand the long term damage this virus does to the body, even for people who had “mild” cases. There’s so many people with long COVID, and it will be interesting to see what we learn over time about it.

      I don’t think people should live with no risk…but I’m saving my risky activities for when it is really important. I will fly to see my family this spring, but I will be wearing a mask or two.

      • JanetDR says:

        I agreed @ Tiffany! We have eaten inside just once since March 2019 (during the brief period between Delta and Omicron when it seemed like things were winding down). It’s a good Thai restaurant and we just picked up take out for tonight, 😋. It’s hard at work when that was our only time to be social. But we work with preschoolers and every week at least one staff member and one child test positive. More often 2. I wear 2 masks everywhere! Even though NY state has dropped mask mandates, most stores have signs up asking you to wear them.

    • TotoLA says:

      Nurse Anne, I agree with everything you’re saying. People want to go back to some norms but not feel guilty about it so they scapegoat. The last few restaurants in LA I’ve been to did not check my vaccine card. And I have more than a few times seen employees not wear masks properly. Who knows what they do behind the scenes.

      I know plenty of people, especially my grandparents, that have chosen to avoid public place almost completely. They think even sitting at a bar in a restaurant is 100% careless and selfish. Let’s face it everyone likes to think they are right and may refuse to see their own hypocrisy regardless of where they stand. Once the mask mandate are all taken away, if you are someone that believed they worked, then maybe stop going to public places.

  14. DiegoInSF says:

    Another Bay Area/SF commenter here!
    SF has been so good that I don’t see it changing with masks, I was at an indoor restaurant yesterday for a work thing and the staff and everyone wore masks and they check vaccination cards.
    We had an event in the office after it being mostly closed due to Omicron and most people wore masks indoors, I am going to continue to wear masks indoors and even outdoors if crowded. A lot of people also wear masks outdoors here I’d say it’s like 70%.

  15. Duchess of Corolla says:

    Of course. Because being inconvenienced by having to wear a mask is just a fate worse than death.

    FFS, just wear the friggin mask and get the vaccines. This whole situation could be resolved much sooner if people could stop the whining and be responsible.

    It is all so disappointing to me.

    • ME says:

      It’s extremely disappointing to be honest. Why are people just selfish a$$holes? Why can’t you wear a damn mask and get the vaccine? Why do you want this pandemic to last way longer than it has to? WHYYYY????????????????? These “freedumb” lovers act like they don’t follow any other rules/laws or have never gotten even one vaccine in their lives.

      • Turtledove says:


        It stinks, but I think it has so much to do with the political side- which is insane.

        My state is about to drop masks indoors. School districts are allowed to do what they want. Ours voted to drop them at the end of the month. Kids are all going on February break next week. So people will be visiting/hanging out/traveling far and wide and then all the kids will go back to school… maskless. What could POSSIBLY go wrong? And then if there are enough cases that school has to go remote again, it will be the same people screeching about needing them back in school that were dancing in the streets over the decision to drop masks.

        It’s like not one drop of common sense has been seen in two solid years of this crap.

  16. Jules says:

    Lol the Benana photos. Wonder if Ben gets cardboard cutouts of all his loves?

  17. LittlePenguin says:

    We removed masking for kids here in Alberta last week. Kids under 12 are not required to wear a mask anywhere our provincial govt says so “kids can be kids again”. (Whatever the hell that means) 60-75% of kids are still wearing masks to school. And, frankly I’m only surprised by one or two of the families who are choosing not to mask. My sons had no problem about continuing to mask and one of their teachers even took the time to tell my youngest she still has to wear a mask and she supports him and any other classmate who chooses to wear one to keep others safe. She told him, bullying over masks will not be tolerated by her. (She has two kids under 5 herself so she’s pissed off since they can’t be vaxxed yet). Personally our family is of the thought that masking needs to continue indoors and at anything with a crowd outdoors until the kids vax rate is higher and the under 5’s get their shot.

  18. Nicole says:

    LA County Resident here: And people wonder why I don’t go anywhere. I live in a redder section of the County where they love our cowboy Sherriff and sizable chunk love 45. I recently witnessed a couple of middle aged women giving a bagel shop hell for not being allowed in because they were not wearing a mask and “it’s not a law” to wear masks. So selfish. So yah. Masks 4evah! My behavior is truly modified. I will continue to keep it close to home. Slowly bring back the beauty regime. Last week was waxing. Next week pedicures. But otherwise stay away from me and I will do the same.

  19. Luna17 says:

    My understanding is these mask mandates are being lifted in states now because the hospitals aren’t quite as full. I guess CA has a pretty expansive healthcare networks but I hope this doesn’t overwhelm them. I like In NM and our healthcare infrastructure is like a developing country so our mandate isn’t going anywhere anytime soon it looks like. My parents (who are in the most populated part of the state) need to find PCPs and have called every healthcare network around with no callbacks and we’re told some clinics had waitlists for years! Find they got appts for late June with a NP in a neighboring suburb. It’s a joke in this state to get any reasonable care (many people travel to TX or CO if they have the means to see specialists and to get better care). So I’m sure we will have mandates for a while but if you live in a state with decent healthcare and adequate providers, you’re a lot better off than other places and I hope these mandate changes don’t tank the hospitals.

    • Duchess of Corolla says:

      Just because the hospitals aren’t quite overwhelmed at the moment isn’t a good reason to drop the mandates, in my opinion. We should wait until the numbers are extremely low before making changes like this.

      We never seem to learn. Rather than ending this pandemic once and for all through hard work and responsibility, we throw caution to the wind every time there is a teensy bit of improvement. Then the whole cycle starts again. It is ridiculous.

      Again, just my opinion.

  20. Tiffany:) says:

    Ooooof, California hospitals are not doing well right now. I wish they would have waited for that to calm down before lifting mask mandates.

    You can see how hospitals in your state are doing in the article from NPR:

  21. Imara219 says:

    I don’t even care about mask liftings at this point. My family is still wearing a mask when we go out. My 4 yo wears his at Preschool, even though he is the only one. All of that is fine by me. It just seems silly to keep doing this.

  22. gl says:

    Whether you guys like it or not, the masks mandates are very unpopular at this point. And make no mistake, they are doing this because midterms are coming. They are hoping people will forget about things that have been unpopular between now and November.

    • Twin Falls says:

      Extremely unpopular with mixed messages on effectiveness. Very hard sell.

    • Tiffany:) says:

      Whether we like it or not, more than 928,000 people in the United States have died from COVID as a result of people disliking masks and not wanting to get vaccinated.

      Whether we like it or not, we live with a lot of ignorant people who would rather treat public health policy like team sports than save lives.

  23. Kris says:

    Paranoid much?