COVID: San Francisco, Marin ease indoor mask rule. Will others?

Though most Bay Area counties remain far from reaching the criteria health officers laid out last week for lifting mask requirements, starting Friday, vaccinated people won’t need them in some indoor settings in San Francisco and Marin County.

And Contra Costa County plans to join them Nov. 1. The partial lifting in those places applies to gyms, fitness centers, office settings, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings and college classes with no more than 100 people where all are proven vaccinated — that means no kids under 12, who can’t get the shots yet.

“This will allow vaccinated people to feel safe removing their masks at the office and when they’re working out at the gym,” Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said Thursday. “Of course, people in these places can keep wearing masks if that makes them feel more comfortable.”

The limited loosening of the mask rule was a welcome change to San Francisco’s MX3 Fitness owner Glenn Shope.

“It is definitely beneficial because it’s a lot easier to work out doing high-intensity stuff without a mask on,” Shope said. “It takes the onus off of the gym owners and trainers to constantly be enforcing the mask protocols, reminding people to put the mask on their nose and mouth, put it back on again after they’re done drinking, hydrating. It also signals to our members that it’s safe to be in a gym again.”

The easing of the mask rule comes as most Bay Area counties remain far from reaching the criteria they laid out last week for allowing vaccinated people more broadly to drop the masks in most indoor public settings, including grocery and retail stores and restaurants and bars when they aren’t eating or drinking.

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Under those criteria, which eight of the nine county health officers agreed to, the indoor mask requirement for the vaccinated can drop after three weeks of the county’s COVID-19 transmission rate reaching the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s yellow “moderate” tier. At least 80% of the county’s entire population also must be fully vaccinated, and hospitalization rates must remain low and stable.

Of the nine Bay Area counties, only Marin appears close to reaching those criteria. It reached the CDC’s moderate transmission rate Wednesday, putting it on a path to dropping the indoor mask rule next month if it stays there. Hospitalizations are low and 77.4% of the county population is fully vaccinated, the CDC said, the highest Bay Area rate.

Most other Bay Area counties are in the CDC’s orange “substantial” transmission tier, while Napa’s rate remains in the red “high” level. Solano County had not joined the others in imposing their own indoor mask requirements back in August.

San Francisco was first to announce Friday’s partial lifting of the mask requirement. Asked why Santa Clara County wasn’t planning similar exceptions, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody noted that San Francisco has a vaccine passport requirement to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, clubs, large indoor events or other indoor …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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