Contra Costa County to reduce certain house mask rules

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Contra Costa County to reduce certain house mask rules

There can only be 100 people present in these settings, and the groups that gather must do so on a regular basis. No one entering these spaces can have COVID-19 symptoms, the health department said.

“That’s great news,” Stafford said. Forma Gym saw a number of canceled memberships last month after the county began requiring it to check for proof of vaccination. “Lots of people here will be really happy to hear that.”

Contra Costa’s new rules follow similar orders by San Francisco and Marin counties, which like much of the Bay Area have seen a decline in coronavirus cases since the delta variant surge this summer. On Wednesday, the county’s seven-day average of daily cases was about 16.8, with only 2.2 cases among fully vaccinated people.

The county’s mask mandate will still apply to restaurants, bars, retail stores and other public spaces that allow the general public to enter indoors. It also remains in effect for the county’s K-12 public schools.

Story Highlights

  • Citing a decline in case and hospitalization rates, Contra Costa Health Services said “controlled spaces” that aren’t open to the general public — including offices, gyms, indoor college classes and organized events such as religious gatherings — can go mask-less as long as those entering show proof they’re fully inoculated.

  • The new rules came as a relief to John Stafford, a front desk worker at Forma Gym in Walnut Creek, who said members have often resisted wearing masks while working out. The refusals have escalated to arguments, especially among those running on the gym’s treadmills or riding exercise bikes.

There are currently 67 people hospitalized in the county with COVID-19 and 23 had been admitted to an intensive care unit, according to Contra Costa Health Services data.

Contra Costa joined other Bay Area counties last week in announcing it would take steps to lift indoor mask mandates for fully vaccinated people in all public settings when criteria such as an 80% full vaccination rate and further decline in cases and hospitalizations are met.

On Tuesday, Contra Costa Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano told the Board of Supervisors the county was on track with its case counts to meet all the criteria by December or early January. The delta surge had interrupted the end to California’s mask mandate over the summer, but with the positive trends in hospitalizations it “makes sense now” to begin easing the restrictions, he said in a statement Thursday.

“We’re in a safer place than we were two months ago,”  Farnitano said. “My hope is that two months from now vaccinated people won’t have to wear masks in other places like restaurants, bars and retail stores. The way we get there is for those who remain unvaccinated to get immunized.”