California Reinstates Mask Mandate Amid COVID-19 Spike
Following the detection of the COVID-19 Omicron variant and a significant spike in case rates since Thanksgiving weekend, California official reinstated an indoor mask mandate effective Dec. 15 — regardless of vaccination status. The mandate, as reported by ABC30 Action News, extends to Jan. 15, 2022 after case rates and hospitalizations increased by 47 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
For frontline cleaning crews and distributors, this decision could result in changes to infection control protocols in facilities, and mandatory requirements for their occupants that may be coupled with signage and public announcements reinforcing the mandate. For distributors, this almost certainly means an even higher demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and an expected influx of requests from clients. While California is one of just eight states with a statewide mandate, it may serve as a sign of things to come for many other regions around the country.
California’s health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly supports the decision, noting that case rates can be diminished significantly with just a 10 percent increase in indoor masking. In addition to the mask mandate, social gathering requirements for unvaccinated people have also become stricter — which will directly impact cleaning crews and facilities that host live events. For gatherings of 1,000 people or more, unvaccinated people must show either a PCR test 48 hours before the event, or an antigen test 24 hours beforehand. While not a mandate, the state also strongly suggests COVID-19 testing for anyone returning to California within five days.
From a mandate perspective, cities have a bit more discretion when it comes to gyms and workplaces. San Francisco's health department announced it will continue to allow vaccinated occupants to take off their masks — but individual businesses may have their own stance on the matter.
In related news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently shortened the timeline on negative test requirements for all international travel. Read more on that here.