California is bringing back a statewide indoor mask mandate.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration announced the new mandate will start Wednesday and last until Jan. 15. The order comes as the per capita rate of new coronavirus cases in California has jumped 47% in the past two weeks.
“We know people are tired and hungry for normalcy. Frankly, I am too,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Monday. “That said, this is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and can work.”
California lifted its statewide mask mandate June 15 for people who were vaccinated, a date Newsom heralded as the state’s grand reopening. But since then, county governments covering about half of the state’s population have imposed their own indoor mask mandates as case rates surged with new variants.
The state’s new mask mandate will cover everyone else, but state officials on Monday were unclear about whether it would be enforced. Ghaly said enforcement would likely be stronger in some places than others, but he urged Californians to heed the warnings and wear masks.
“We know that t here’s going to be people who don’t necessarily agree with this, who are tired, who aren’t going to mask,” Ghaly said. “We hope that those are few and far between, that most people see the purpose of doing this over the next month as something to protect them and their communities during a very tough time.”
California also is tightening existing testing requirements by ordering unvaccinated people attending indoor events of 1,000 people or more to have a negative test within one or two days, depending on the type of test. The state also is recommending travelers who visit or return to California to get tested within five days of their arrival.