Note: Updated on January 5, 2022
On Monday, December 13, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health announced a renewed mask mandate for all indoor settings through January 15, 2021. On January 5, 2022, Tomás J. Aragón, M.D., California State Public Health Officer, extended the indoor mask mandate through February 15, 2021. The mandate requires that face coverings be worn by all individuals in public settings, irrespective of vaccine status.
The indoor mask mandate was reinstituted in response to a significant rise in COVID-19 infection rates statewide following the Thanksgiving holiday. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly noted, “This is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and can work [again]” to help limit new infections during the holiday season. At that time, public health officials said they would evaluate whether the mandate should be extended beyond January 15 early in the new year. Today’s action confirms that public health officials’ have concluded that the continued rise in new infection rates warrants keeping the mandate in place.
The statewide indoor mask mandate does not prevent local governments from adopting more stringent requirements. In fact, several California counties, including Los Angeles, have maintained indoor mask mandates throughout much of the pandemic.
Governor Newsom has called on Californians to comply voluntarily with COVID-19 health and safety precautions throughout the health emergency, and this Order appears to be in the same mold. There are no formal enforcement mechanisms imposed, and the Order does not prescribe penalties (either for individuals or establishments) for failures to comply.
In addition to the mask mandate, the new Order also implements stricter requirements for “megaevents” with over 1,000 (indoor) or 10,000 (outdoor) attendees. Attendees will be required to provide proof of vaccination, a negative antigen COVID-19 test within one day of the event or a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within two days of the event. The Order also institutes a new recommendation that all travelers arriving in California test for COVID-19 within three to five days after arrival, regardless of their vaccination status.