Los Angeles County Lifts Mask Mandate for Vaccinated People

Los Angeles County has issued a new health order that now allows residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19 to take off their masks at indoor establishments that check for proof of vaccination.

"As the county continues to experience reduced COVID-19 spread, it is appropriate to consider fewer required safety measures, noting that vulnerable individuals should continue to layer in all protections possible," the L.A. County Department of Public Health said in a statement on Wednesday. "Given decreased risk, Public Health is modifying the Health Officer Order to allow establishments, businesses, and venues verifying vaccination status to offer optional masking for fully vaccinated individuals."

The move is a major change to the county's strict indoor mask mandate, which requires people to don face coverings in most indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. The new health order took effect at 12:01 a.m. on February 25,

Last week, California health officials lifted the statewide COVID indoor mask mandate in public settings for vaccinated people. Children, however, are still required to keep their masks on at school.

Under the new health order, establishments, businesses and venues must verify that 100% of customers 5 and older are fully vaccinated. If not, they must provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 viral test result. Tests for customers must be taken within two days of entry if a PCR test, or one day if an antigen test. Employees will be allowed to submit a negative test result every three days.

"As transmission drops and there is less virus circulating, some tools may afford significant protections against the very worst risks associated with COVID," County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "Because vaccines are one of these tools, with lower rates of hospital admissions and COVID hospitalizations, it is appropriate in settings verifying vaccination or negative test status, that we transition to strongly recommending masking instead of requiring masking."

Masks are still required indoors at schools under a state order that is scheduled to be reviewed again at the end of the month.

According to Public Heath figures released last week, 82% of eligible residents in Los Angeles County, aged 5 and over, have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, while 74% are fully vaccinated, and 36% are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot.

Of the county's overall 10.3 million population, 78% have had at least one dose, 70% are fully vaccinated and 34% have received a booster shot.


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