By Kathy Chouteau
Contra Costa County residents will be able to go maskless in specified indoor settings where everyone is fully vaccinated as of Mon., Nov. 1, according to an announcement from Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) today.
The County is lifting masking requirements in controlled settings that aren’t open to the general public, including offices, gyms and fitness centers, employee commuter vehicles, indoor college classes and organized gatherings in any other indoor setting, such as a religious gathering, per health officials.
The caveat? Businesses, organizations and hosts will be tasked with verifying that everyone—from patrons to employees to attendees—are fully vaccinated before permitting them entrance to their facilities without a mask. Also per the health order, the maximum number of people who can be present at such places is 100; the people in question must also congregate on a regular basis and should not have any symptoms of COVID-19.
Until certain targets are met, indoor masking requirements will remain in effect in public settings like bars, restaurants and retail stores, as well as in indoor K-12 schools.
“We’re in a safer place than we were two months ago,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County, who said he hopes that “two months from now vaccinated people won’t have to wear masks in…restaurants, bars and retail stores.” He emphasized that “the way we get there is for those who remain unvaccinated to get immunized.”
According to CCHS, indoor masking requirements will be lifted for restaurants, bars and retails stores when other benchmarks are met—such as when 80 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. The County reports that, as of Thursday, 71.6 percent of all county residents are fully vaccinated.
Recently, both San Francisco and Marin County eased mask requirements due to declining COVID cases and hospitalizations since summer spikes caused by the Delta variant. Contra Costa County’s COVID-related hospitalizations are down to 69 from a summer high of 227 in August, per CCHS, which stated that county case rates have experienced a similar decline over the last two months.
Learn more about CCHS and getting immunized in Contra Costa County here.