Los Angeles Officially Announces It Will Lift Indoor Mask Mandate This Friday; Businesses Have Two Options For Compliance – Update
BY TOM TAP
UPDATED: Los Angeles Public Health officials didn’t wait until Thursday to reveal their plan to (mostly) lift the county’s indoor masking mandate. A statement from that department issued this afternoon officially announced the change and outlined what it referred to as “two options for removing masking requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.”
The biggest difference between the two paths outlined below seems to be that establishments, businesses, or venues can keep their workers masked while applying the protocols below to customers alone, or they can apply them to both customers and employees. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people must continue to mask up undoors.
Option 1: Starting this Friday, establishments, businesses, or venues that want to allow fully-vaccinated customers and workers to unmask while indoors must choose between two options.
Verify that 100% of customers (5 and older) and workers prior to, or upon, entry to indoor spaces:
-Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or
-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.
Those who are not fully vaccinated or do not show proof of vaccination, are required to provide a negative test, and continue wearing a well-fitting mask while indoors (as required by the state), except when actively eating or drinking.
Option 2: Starting this Friday, establishments, businesses, or venues that want to allow their fully-vaccinated customers to unmask indoors while all onsite workers remain masked, must:
-Verify that 100% of customers (5 and older) prior to, or upon, entry to indoor spaces
a.) Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or
b.) Provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 viral test result. Tests for customers must have been taken within two days of entry if a PCR test or one day if an antigen test.
-Adhere to the following regarding customers and masking:
a.) Fully vaccinated customers may be unmasked in the indoor setting.
b.) Customers that are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a well-fitting mask while indoors (as required by the state), except when actively eating or drinking.
c.) Any individual showing proof of full vaccination prior to entering can still choose to wear a mask indoors.
The changes go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
PREVIOUSLY at 11:45 a.m.: Los Angeles’s top health official has reportedly confirmed that a new health officer order related to Covid will be released tomorrow and take effect on Friday. KPCC reporter Claudia Peschiutta, who has covered Covid in Los Angeles exhaustively for the past two years, said she got confirmation of the move from L.A. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
There were no further specifics on the plan from the Public Health Department, but Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said yesterday that the order will be “allowing vaccinated people to take off their masks indoors at places that check for proof of vaccination.”
For more on that, and the rationale for only lifting the mandate for those who are vaccinated, you can read the revised Health Officer Order or peruse below.
PREVIOUSLY on Tuesday: Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said today that the county will relax its indoor mask-wearing requirement this week, allowing vaccinated people to remove masks in indoor spaces where people are checked for proof of vaccination. She says the change could take effect by Friday.
“This puts us significantly closer to aligning with the State,” wrote Hahn on Twitter.
Such a rule would, of course, put the burden on businesses to check proof of vaccination and enforce the mandate for those who are unvaccinated.
Earlier this month, Supervisor Kathryn Barger called on the county to align with the state, formally requesting that county public health officials lift the indoor mask mandate before the Super Bowl. She said the rule creates too much confusion and frustration among residents to have stricter local rules than the state’s. The County Public Health Department indicated last week that the indoor mask mandate may be lifted by mid-March.
On the Tuesday after the Super Bowl, Hahn joined Barger in her call to end the mandate now — pointing to rampant violations of the county’s outdoor mask-wearing rule during the big game at SoFi Stadium.
“Businesses, schools and churches were fined or shut down for far less,” Hahn said during a board meeting that Tuesday. She has become more strident in the days since.
The other three members of county’s powerful Board of Supervisors — Holly Mitchell, Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl — so far still support leaving the indoor mask mandate in place until criteria outlined by Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer are met.
California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the state’s indoor mask mandate in most locations last week. County public health officials, however, can be more restrictive than the state. That’s been the case in L.A.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer indicated last week that that the region’s indoor mask mandate, is now likely to be lifted between March 16 and March 30.
Under sharp questioning last week from Barger and Hahn, Ferrer told the supervisors that the health agency was exploring the possibility of easing the indoor mandate at places where other “layers of protection” are in place, such as mandatory COVID vaccinations or testing.
The Los Angeles Unified School District today dropped its mandate that students and staff wear face coverings while outside on campuses.
City News Service contributed to this report.