California Keeps Stricter COVID-19 Mask Mandate Despite New CDC Guidelines
By Jazmyn Gray, Sierra Parr, Torstein Rehn
On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased masking guidelines for fully-vaccinated people. However, California plans to keep stricter masking requirements in place until the state’s economy is fully reopened on June 15.
This is the proposed date that Governor Gavin Newsom plans to fully reopen California’s economy by ending capacity requirements, physical distancing, and the multi-tiered COVID-19 restriction system.
With transmission of COVID-19 steadily on the decline in the U.S. and open availability of vaccines, a long awaited return to normalcy has finally begun over a year after pandemic restrictions began.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
People qualify as “fully vaccinated” two weeks after their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC.
New CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated individuals can generally disregard a mask or physical distancing under most circumstances, except when required by local and state laws.
Guidelines also state that fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing after a known exposure to COVID-19 unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter.
Due to a university presidential order enacted at on Jan. 4, Cal Poly students are still required to wear a face covering when on university property or participating in university events.
In California, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks outdoors, except when attending crowded outdoor events. Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks outdoors anytime physical distancing cannot be maintained. Indoors, every person is required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. For more information and exemptions of face covering requirements, residents can visit the California Department of Public Health website.
“While we anticipate that state masking guidelines may change in the weeks ahead, they are currently still in effect, including in workplaces,” County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said in a press release. “Many local businesses also have masking requirements in place, and I encourage everyone to respect and support these local business rules.”
The decision to return to many pre-pandemic practices comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations are at their lowest rate since the beginning of the pandemic, and over 52 percent of Californians have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
For now, California still requires masks for vaccinated individuals in crowded outdoor settings, and all indoor settings outside of one’s home. Those who remain unvaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask at all times indoors, and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Even with a reopening less than a month away, the risks of COVID-19 remain especially present until California can reach herd immunity from mass vaccinations.
San Luis Obispo County representatives urge all residents to get vaccinated to move beyond the pandemic, according to a press release.
Vaccine appointments can be found through mobile, pop-up and regular County Public Health clinics in San Luis Obispo County.
Cal Poly is also offering the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine to students, employees and community members in the University Union until tomorrow, June 5.
Residents can visit MyTurn.ca.gov to schedule a vaccine appointment.