State, Alameda County Ease Indoor Masking Requirements Starting Feb. 16

white, sterile kN95 masks against white table
KN95 masks. Photo courtesy of Markus Winkler via Unsplash.

The state and Alameda County are easing up on indoor mask rules. Starting on February 16, 2022, 10 Bay Area counties including Alameda County, plus the City of Berkeley, will allow those who are vaccinated to choose to not wear masks.

Individuals over the age of two years-old who are not vaccinated are still required to wear masks while indoors.

Some indoor masking is still required regardless of vaccination status: “In public transportation; health care settings; congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters; long term care facilities; and in K- 12 schools and childcare settings,” according to the county.

Anyone can still choose to wear masks indoors, and individual businesses can create their own guidelines, masking requirements, as well as vaccination definitions.

COVID cases and hospitalizations have overall decreased, but county officials still advise that “People should continue to choose layered prevention strategies, such as wearing well-fitted masks (N95 or double layer cloth over surgical are best); staying home and testing when symptomatic; testing before gatherings; and improving indoor ventilation in situations where these strategies can add protection for themselves and others. Staying “up to date” on vaccinations, meaning primary series and boosters when eligible, remains the most important way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.”

In addition, even though dropping universal indoor masking was based on the state’s new guidelines, the state itself also suggests that “Fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to continue indoor masking when the risk may be high.”

Author Profile

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Co-Director. Her work focuses on healthcare, immigration, education, Asian American communities, food and culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Momo has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting and the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Her work has appeared in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, and The New York Times. Momo is primarily a print journalist who also produces audio and visual stories for documentary film and radio. She is a Senior Contributing Editor for Hyphen and formerly the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

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