Bay Area health officers set criteria for removing indoor mask mandate

STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN, GRAPHIC BY ALLISON HUANG

Bay Area health officers yesterday set criteria for rescinding indoor mask requirements, potentially paving the way for a removal of the mandate previously set in August.

In order to remove the mandates, counties must reach the “moderate” tier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 transmission standards; the county health officer must judge that COVID-19 hospitalizations are “low and stable”; and either 80% of the county must be fully vaccinated or eight weeks must have passed since emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for 5 to 11 year olds.

Santa Clara County sits in the “substantial” tier of transmission, just above the “moderate” tier, and 84.2% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Yesterday’s criteria, set jointly by eight Bay Area jurisdictions, are the first metrics offered by the health officers for transitioning out of the indoor mask mandate since it was set in August.

“With regional data showing that the surge is now receding, and with the Bay Area one of the most vaccinated regions in the country, the health officers agree it is time to plan for a transition,” a county press release reads.

A rescinded mask mandate, though, would not preclude businesses from continuing to impose their own requirements, the health officers said.

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