After 3 weeks, Alameda County mask mandate is over

A man wearing a mask walks past a boarded up restaurant in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco on April 7, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Alameda County lifted its indoor mask mandate Saturday as COVID-19 cases and transmission have fallen countywide.

According to county public health officials, both daily reported COVID-19 cases and the amount of virus observed in local wastewater peaked earlier this month and are now in decline. The county also moved to a lower tier of community transmission, as monitored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from “high” to “moderate.”

“While we expect continued impacts from COVID-19 in the coming weeks and masks remain strongly recommended, it is appropriate to step down from the … masking order at this time,” Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicolas Moss said in a statement.

Moss issued the indoor mask requirement June 2, applying to most indoor public settings like grocery stores and gyms. Students and staff at K-12 schools were not affected during the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year. The order also did not apply to the city of Berkeley, which oversees its own local health jurisdiction.

Moss urged residents to continue wearing a mask when indoors in an effort to reduce the virus’ spread even further. County residents aged 6 months or older are also encouraged to get vaccinated if they have yet to do so.

“Masks work and are still an important tool to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, especially when rates are high,” Moss said. “We strongly encourage everyone to continue masking to protect themselves and others from COVID.”

Masks are still required indoors under state public health guidance in health care facilities, jails and prisons, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.

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