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Mask mandate coming to an end
mask mandate
Alameda County said Thursday it will reinstate an indoor mask policy as COVID-19 hospitalizations steadily increase (Photo contributed).

As case numbers of COVID-19 are on the wane in California, many mask mandates are expected to expire in the next week, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Californians who are vaccinated will no longer have to wear masks indoors after Feb. 15. Some mask requirements will continue for all individuals regardless of vaccination status in certain areas, like on mass transit, nursing facilities or other congregate living facilities. Unvaccinated people will still be asked to wear masks indoors, according to the CDPH. Counties that are experiencing higher rates of cases and hospitalizations might continue with local mask mandates.

COVID-19 cases and the rate of community transmission have steadily decreased statewide since early January, and hospitalizations are either plateauing or declining in most regions of the state. Since California’s peak during the Omicron surge, the state has experienced a 65% decrease in case rates, the CDPH reported.

“Omicron has loosened its hold on California, vaccines for children under 5 are around the corner, and access to COVID-19 treatments is improving,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “With things moving in the right direction, we are making responsible modifications to COVID-19 prevention measures, while also continuing to develop a longer-term action plan for the state.”

Other requirements put into place during a surge of COVID-19 cases driven by Omicron are also expiring. The visitation requirements instituted for long-term care facilities on Jan. 7 expired on Monday.

Definitions for indoor and outdoor mega events will return to pre-surge guidance, from 500 to 1,000 attendees for indoor events, and 5,000 to 10,000 attendees for outdoor events after Feb. 15. Those vaccinated will be asked to show their vaccination cards or a negative test and those unvaccinated will have to wear a mask.

The state is continuing to work with education, public health and community leaders to update masking requirements at schools to adapt to changing conditions and ensure the safety of kids, teachers, and staff. Additional adjustments to the state’s policies will be shared in the coming week.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration brought back the masking mandate in mid-December as Omicron gained momentum and last month extended the requirement through Feb. 15. California passed 80,000 pandemic deaths and 8 million confirmed positive cases last week but new cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions all continued falling Monday and are projected to keep declining  at a rapid clip, the Associated Press reported.