California To Wait Until June 15 to Ditch COVID-19 Mask Requirement


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - California will wait until June 15 to align with federal guidance that no longer requires people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear face coverings, officials said today.

The June date is when state officials are expected to lift most virus-related restrictions if current positive trends continue.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County officials scheduled a briefing for 1 p.m. Monday, when they were expected to stress to the public the need to continue the practice of physical distancing and wearing a cloth face covering.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance, saying that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can largely stop wearing a mask in most indoor and outdoor situations.

That announcement, however, did not immediately reverse existing mask-wearing requirements in Los Angeles County or in California as a whole.

L.A. County requirements allow fully vaccinated residents to shed masks while indoors with other fully vaccinated people. But mask mandates remain in place for everyone working at or patronizing businesses -- such as grocery stores or retail shops.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said last week that local mask requirements won't be changing until at least late this week, when state Occupational Health and Safety regulators meet Thursday to consider possible changes to worksite masking guidelines.

Ferrer's comments echoed those being heard across the country, as health officials weigh the continued protection of workers who may not be vaccinated -- and the thorny question of how business owners and employers can verify who has actually been vaccinated.

The revised CDC guidance was announced in response to repeated studies showing the effectiveness of the vaccines, offering people who have been inoculated a great deal of protection against infection or severe illness if they are infected.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,'' CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

The new CDC guidance does not completely drop mask recommendations for vaccinated people. Face coverings are still recommended in some settings -- such as aboard planes and buses or in crowded settings such as hospitals.

Supermarket chains including Trader Joe's, Costco and Walmart have dropped the mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers, though store officials said they will not be asking for proof of vaccination.

Photo: Getty Images

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.