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Alameda County to ease mask requirements in ‘controlled settings’

As of Monday, Alameda County residents can lower their masks in some indoor settings where everyone is fully vaccinated, thanks to declining coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. County health officials announced the upcoming changes and outlined new guidance parameters on Thursday.

Eligible settings include controlled spaces closed to the public, including but not limited to: offices, gyms, employee commuter vehicles and places like churches, where groups gather on a regular basis.

Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said in a statement:

“Allowing vaccinated people to remove their masks in these limited, controlled settings carries lower risk. … If vaccinated people choose to continue wearing masks, they should feel comfortable doing so.”

No more than 100 people can gather without masks, everyone must be free of Covid-19 symptoms and the host organization, such as the church or business, must verify that everyone attending is fully vaccinated.

Alameda County Public Health Department Total daily Covid-19 cases in Alameda County, Calif. as of Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Courtesy of Alameda County Public Health Department)

Proof of vaccination can be a vaccination card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or by a foreign government that includes the person’s name, type of vaccine given, and the date or dates of the dose or doses.

Proof can also be presented as photo or copy of a vaccination card — either on paper or stored on an electronic device — documentation from a health care provider, a state of California personal digital vaccine record or similar record from another state, local or foreign government.

Hosts must also confirm each person’s identity using a government-issued photo ID.

Mask requirements are still in effect for public settings such as bars, restaurants, and retail stores as well as at K-12 schools. Also, California still requires masks for all unvaccinated people in indoor public places, and everyone must wear a mask on public transit, in health care facilities, adult and senior care facilities.

Employers can check with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for work-related requirements.

Alameda County Public Health Department Alameda County, Calif. Covid-19 vaccination rate heat map by zip code as of Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Courtesy of Alameda County Public Health Department)

The city of Berkeley is also easing masking requirements Monday in a similar way as Alameda County. Contra Costa, San Francisco, Marin, and Sonoma counties have similarly eased masking requirements recently.

Moss said:

“We’re looking forward to the day when we can safely remove all masking requirements. … To help us get there, we strongly encourage every eligible, unvaccinated person to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

He said:

“If you are 65 and older or have increased risk of severe illness due to other health or risk factors or are otherwise eligible, get your booster dose.” 

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