December 13, 2021
Faced with rising COVID-19 cases, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today it will require universal masking beginning Wednesday, December 15, 2021, in all indoor public settings regardless of vaccine status. The mandate will remain in place through January 15, 2022. Surgical masks or higher-level respirators are recommended. There are limited exemptions, such as people younger than two years old are not required to wear masks.
The new mask order comes as the Omicron variant — discovered only last month — has spread rapidly around the globe. As of December 9, 2021, 18 confirmed cases associated with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been reported in California.
COVID-19 case rates in California have risen by almost 50% since Thanksgiving, with COVID-19 hospitalizations up by nearly 15%. County health officials across the state say they suspect they may be seeing the start of a winter jump in coronavirus cases.
Additionally, CDPH updated requirements for attending mega events, like concerts and sporting events. Prior to attending an event, attendees must now provide proof of vaccination, a negative antigen COVID-19 test within one day of the event, or a negative PCR test within two days of the event.
CDPH also issued a new travel advisory effective immediately to recommend that all travelers arriving in California test for COVID-19 within three to five days after arrival, regardless of their vaccination status.
"Our collective actions can save lives this holiday season,” said Tomás J. Aragón, M.D., CDPH director and state public health officer. “We are already seeing a higher level of transmission this winter and it is important to act now to prevent overwhelming our busy hospitals so we can provide quality health care to all Californians.”
Getting vaccinated and receiving a booster once eligible remain the most important things Californians can do to protect themselves from the serious impacts of the virus and its variants. But testing and masking remain important tools in slowing the spread this holiday season.
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