Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday the state will loosen its COVID-19 mask mandate to align with new federal guidance saying that fully vaccinated people can gather outdoors or dine at an outdoor restaurant without face coverings.
The new guidance was issued Tuesday morning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing that for people fully vaccinated against COVID, “things are much safer for you than those who are not fully vaccinated.”
Under the new CDC guidance, people can walk, run or bike outdoors with members of their own household without a mask, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. But people who are vaccinated can also shed their masks for small outdoor gatherings and for outdoor dining with people from other households.
Masks are still urged for anyone — vaccinated or not — attending an indoor activity or patronizing indoor businesses, and for anyone at a crowded outdoor event, such as a concert, parade or sporting event.
Newsom said the state has reviewed the new guidelines, “and with science and data as our guide, we are moving to align California’s guidance with these common-sense updates.”
“While more than half of Californians 16 and older are partially or fully vaccinated, many others are still not vaccinated and the threat of variants remains,” he said. “We need to remain vigilant and continue public health prevention measures — like wearing masks when appropriate and getting vaccinated — but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”
UPDATE: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a statement saying the local health order was being updated to align with the CDC guidance. But the agency warned that masks are still essential in many circumstances.
“While these changes are appropriate and science-based, they can create unintended risk if individuals not yet fully vaccinated discontinue wearing their masks in situations where they may become infected,” according to the DPH. “More than 50% of the people living in Los Angeles County are not yet fully vaccinated, and intermingling with others who are not vaccinated and unmasked increases the possibility of virus transmission.
“Given the continued threat of variants, masking and distancing are essential protections for those not yet vaccinated. The only safe way for us to enjoy more activities without masking and distancing, is for everyone eligible to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they can.”