SANTA MONICA, CA – All Santa Monica residents, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear masks indoors for the next month under a new statewide masking mandate that went into effect the Wednesday before Christmas and the New Year.
Los Angeles County already had its own rules for using masks indoors, but the new regulation applies nationwide.
Masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces by January 15 as COVID-19 cases and hospital stays spiked after Thanksgiving, the California Department of Health said.
The district health authorities were welcome to set even stricter rules.
The state health department also issued a travel advisory on Monday recommending that all travelers receive a COVID-19 test three to five days after arriving in California.
Officials updated requirements for events with 1,000 or more attendees to require guests to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
The steps came as state health officials saw a surge in COVID-19-related cases and hospital admissions as the highly transmissible Delta variant continued to spread. In California, only 39 cases of the recently identified Omicron variant were confirmed on Monday, but officials were also concerned about the high portability of this variant.
Since Thanksgiving, the average seven-day case rate in California has increased 47 percent, and hospital admissions rose 14 percent as of Monday.
“Our joint actions can save lives this Christmas season,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, Director of the State Health Service and Public Health Officer, in a statement. “We are already seeing higher transmission rates this winter and it is important to act now to prevent our busy hospitals from becoming overburdened so that we can provide quality health care to all Californians.”
Health officials continued to stress the importance of vaccination. Unvaccinated Californians are seven times more likely to get COVID-19, 12.5 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, and 13 times more likely to die from infection, according to statistics released Tuesday.
Almost eight in ten Californians aged 5 years or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Before the last state mask mandate, the state required the use of masks in the following areas.
- K-12 schools, childcare facilities and other places for teenagers.
- Public transport.
- Health facilities.
- Facilities for adult care and those for the elderly.
- Correctional facilities and prisons.
- Homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers.
The state has not specified when the mask requirement in these rooms will be lifted after the mandate for temporary masks has expired.