California Announces Return Of Indoor Mask Mandate Regardless Of Vaccination Status

December 13, 2021

California officials today announced that due to increasing COVID-19 infection rates, the state will return to requiring facial coverings be worn indoors at public premises regardless of vaccination status beginning December 15.  

California secretary of health and human services Dr. Mark Ghaly has announced a state mandate requiring the use of facial coverings indoors at all public spaces beginning on Wednesday, December 15. The requirement will be in place until at least January 15.

"This is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and we are proactively putting this tool of universal indoor masking in public settings to ensure we get through a time of joy and hope without a darker cloud of concern and despair," said Ghaly in a news conference on December 13, 2021. "Californians have done this before, and of course we believe we can do it again." 

California's mask mandate previously permitted those fully vaccinated to enter indoor public venues without a facial covering, so long as the policy of the specific business permitted so. Indoor facial coverings were only required at public facilities such as airports, healthcare settings, schools, adult and senior care facilities, post offices, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers. The decision to reimpose the indoor mask mandates comes as the state's coronavirus cases have increased to more than 14 cases per 100,000. 

California has also announced the toughening of restrictions for unvaccinated people who attend indoor "mega-events" of 1,000 people or more, requiring them to receive a negative COVID test within one day of the date of the event if it is a rapid antigen test or within two days for a PCR test. The current rule required a test within 72 hours of the start of the event.