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California to lift mask mandate for vaccinated residents in indoor public places next week


With the Omicron coronavirus surge rapidly receding, California will lift its universal mask mandate for indoor public places next week, state officials announced Monday.

The lifting of the indoor mask mandate statewide will apply to counties without local mask orders of their own, such as San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as well as swaths of the San Joaquin Valley. Other counties with local mask orders will remain in place, such as in Los Angeles County and much of the San Francisco Bay Area.

While this move doesn’t mean face coverings will be a thing of the past — they still will be required indoors for unvaccinated residents and for everyone in select settings, such as nursing homes or while aboard public transit — relaxing the roughly two-month-old order reflects the progress California has made in its battle against Omicron, even as officials say continued vigilance will be vital in keeping the state on the right track.

“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, the state’s 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.”