San Francisco plans to ease face-mask requirements in limited settings, health officials announced on Thursday. The change, set to take effect on Oct. 15, is dependent on coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates remaining stable or declining.
In settings such as offices, gyms, fitness centers, religious gatherings and college classes, people will be permitted to remove their mask if everyone present is vaccinated and their status has been verified. The new rule applies only to gatherings that do not exceed 100 people.
The employer or host is also required to ensure proper ventilation, verify there have been no recent Covid-19 outbreaks and make sure that no children under 12 are present, among other safety measures.
California is among the states with the lowest number of newly reported coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, according to a New York Times database. In San Francisco County, 74 percent of all residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
“I’m excited that we’re once again at a place where we can begin easing the mask requirements, which is the direct result of the fact that we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, our cases have fallen, and our residents have done their part to keep themselves and those around them safe,” said Mayor London Breed.
Ms. Breed called the eased restrictions “yet another milestone in our recovery” and said that “the City feels like it is coming alive again” on Twitter.
Indoor mask mandates remain in place for most other public settings, including retail stores and other common areas like building elevators, lobbies and restrooms, and continues to be required at bars and restaurants except when patrons are eating or drinking.
Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test has been required to go indoors at bars, restaurants, clubs, gyms, and large indoor events in San Francisco since late August.
“Vaccines continue to be our path out of the pandemic, but masks have blunted the Delta-driven surge and protected our vital hospital capacity, while allowing businesses to remain open and children to return to school,” said Dr. Susan Philip, the city and county’s health officer.