California will keep its mask mandate in place until it fully reopens its economy on June 15 in an effort to persuade more residents to get vaccinated, breaking from other states that are dropping their requirements on the federal government’s advice.
California will still require people in most public indoor settings to wear masks for the next four weeks, said Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. That requirement applies to people regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated. Come June 15, fully vaccinated people can go without masks in most indoor settings.
Ghaly said the month-long wait will give any wavering Californians both the time and the incentive to get vaccinated. To date, 49% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.
“Now that they see there’ll be a little less masking out in our communities, they may decide this is the week to get vaccinated,” Ghaly said on a call with reporters Monday.
California’s decision not to immediately lift its mask requirements, he said, should not be interpreted as a criticism of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last week surprised many public health officials by saying fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks indoors in most circumstances. “It’s in no way saying the science or the direction from the CDC is wrong,” Ghaly said.
California has lost more than 61,000 people to Covid-19 but has seen its case rates plummet since January to some of the lowest in the country. Governor Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall effort fueled by his handling of the pandemic, plans to reopen the state’s economy next month after more than a year of restrictions.