7 SF Bay Area counties recommend — but don’t require — indoor masks for vaccinated individuals

Pedestrians wearing masks walk through Union Square in San Francisco on Dec. 8, 2020.Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

Public health departments in seven Bay Area counties and one city issued advisories Friday morning recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wears masks in public indoor places as COVID-19 cases spread across the region because of the highly contagious delta variant. 

Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma and the city of Berkeley issued a joint statement: “Out of an abundance of caution, people are recommended to wear masks indoors in settings like grocery or retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers, even if they are fully vaccinated as an added layer of protection for unvaccinated residents. Businesses are urged to adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas of their businesses to provide better protection to their employees and customers.”

This news comes after Sacramento and Yolo counties issued similar voluntary rules earlier this week and Los Angeles County reinstituted a mandatory mask requirement for public indoor spaces beginning Saturday. It also comes as the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to say that vaccinated people generally don’t need to wear masks. 

The delta variant of the coronavirus accounted for 43% of all COVID-19 specimens sequenced in California in June, according to the statement. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals the delta variant is responsible for 58% of new infections across the country. 

“We are asking our residents to collectively come together again in this effort to stem the rising cases until we can assess how our hospital capacity will be impacted,” said San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip. 

Solano and Napa counties weren’t a part of the joint advisory. 

Napa and Solano counties told SFGATE in emails prior to today’s announcement that their public health departments will continue to align with state guidelines and monitor cases and hospitalizations.

“Napa County will not be more restrictive than state guidance,” Napa County spokesperson Danielle Adams wrote. “Although Napa County has had more cases, hospitalizations are still low. We will continue to monitor cases and hospitalizations.”

“Solano Public Health will continue to monitor the situation and remove barriers to vaccination by focusing on under-resourced neighborhoods and partnering with community-based organizations,” Solano County said in an email. “Vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, is our best defense against COVID-19, the delta variant and the harm it can do to our communities.”

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