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Masks no longer required indoors for vaccinated people beginning Wednesday

Mask mandates are nearly over for most of us in San Diego County. But as KPBS reporter John Carroll tells us, masks are still required in some settings for now.

The decision from the state Health & Human Services Agency leaves untouched mask requirements for other settings, including health care facilities and all public transit.

Masks on, masks off. It’s become a familiar back and forth since Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed the first mask mandate back in June of 2020.

This most recent mask mandate was put in place two months ago as omicron surged. Then on Monday, the Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency made this announcement: “To allow the guidance for public indoor settings for vaccinated individuals to move from a requirement to a strong recommendation."

Masks are still required for everyone in a number of public settings, including indoor places for unvaccinated people. They're still required for everyone in all transit facilities, also health care facilities, schools and child care, long-term care settings and in jails and prisons.


But even that one change from required to recommended is too much for one local infectious diseases specialist.

“As somebody that’s been really on the front lines and still seeing many people with COVID, I feel like it’s just a little bit premature," said Dr. Christian Ramers, an infectious disease specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego.

Masks will continue to be required in K-12 schools, though the San Diego Unified School District said Tuesday that masks will be optional beginning Wednesday for students and staff for outdoor activities including field trips.

Dr. Ghaly said the state will reassess requirements for schools at the end of this month.

That, said San Diego attorney Kiana Caton with the firm Meyers Nave, could lead to litigation from parents who want the mask requirements to stay in place.


“There are going to be parents who are not happy about having their children exposed to other students, in particular, students who may have special medical needs," she said.

RELATED: School mask mandates remain for now

But the unmasking trend, for now at least, seems unstoppable. Disneyland announced it's dropping mask mandates beginning Thursday, and the giant Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
said not only will masks not be required this year, people won’t have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result either.

Masks no longer required indoors for vaccinated people beginning Wednesday

Dr. Ramers told KPBS that he understands the human impulse to get back to something like normal. But whether it’s a new variant or a new disease, he said we should be prepared for the next big health challenge.

“This is going to happen again, I can say with great certainty that it will. It’s just a matter of when," said Ramers.

But for now at least, you can practically hear the sighs of relief, supported by data showing us moving quickly in the right direction after two-plus years of riding the COVID roller coaster.