LA County gives businesses option to let vaccinated people remove face masks indoors

Los Angeles County revealed its modified Health Officer Order Wednesday, allowing establishments, businesses and venues that verify vaccination status to make masking indoors optional for fully vaccinated people.

The county’s Department of Public Health cited decreased COVID-19 risk, lower hospital admissions and the effectiveness of the vaccines in loosening its face mask rules.

The modified order will go into effect at 12:01 am on Friday.

“As the county continues to experience reduced COVID-19 spread, it is appropriate to consider fewer required safety measures, noting that vulnerable individuals should continue to layer in all protections possible,” a news release from the department states.

The new Health Officer Order gives establishments, businesses and venues two options for removing masking requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.

Option 1: Starting this Friday, establishments, businesses, or venues that want to allow fully vaccinated customers and workers to unmask while indoors must:

a) Verify that 100% of customers (5 and older) and workers prior to, or upon, entry to indoor spaces:

  • Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or
  • Provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 viral test result. (Tests for customers must be taken within two days of entry if a PCR test, or one day if an antigen test. Employees will be allowed to submit a negative test result every three days.)

Those who are not fully vaccinated or do not show proof of vaccination, are required to provide a negative test, and continue wearing a well-fitting mask while indoors (as required by the state), except when actively eating or drinking, the health department said.

Option 2: Starting this Friday, establishments, businesses, or venues that want to allow their fully vaccinated customers to unmask indoors while all onsite workers remain masked, must:

a) Verify that 100% of customers (5 and older) prior to, or upon, entry to indoor spaces:

  • Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or
  • Provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 viral test result. (Tests for customers must have been taken within two days of entry if a PCR test or one day if an antigen test.)

b) Adhere to the following regarding customers and masking:

  • Fully vaccinated customers may be unmasked in the indoor setting.
  • Customers that are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a well-fitting mask while indoors (as required by the state), except when actively eating or drinking.

Individuals who show proof of full vaccination can still choose to wear a mask indoors.

Unvaccinated people will still have to wear masks indoors under a statewide mandate.

“As transmission drops and there is less virus circulating, some tools may afford significant protections against the very worst risks associated with COVID,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Because vaccines are one of these tools, with lower rates of hospital admissions and COVID hospitalizations, it is appropriate in settings verifying vaccination or negative test status, that we transition to strongly recommending masking instead of requiring masking.”

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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