Q&A: California reopens next week — Can I trash all my COVID masks?

California is set to hit a major milestone Tuesday, when progress against the deadly coronavirus will allow the state to reopen. But don’t throw the masks away just yet, even if you’re vaccinated.

The rules set by local, state and federal governments are not in sync, and another announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected Friday. But Californians’ new mask-wearing future is coming into focus, despite confusion and a beleaguered workplace-safety board’s reversal this week of guidelines it adopted last week after a marathon nine-hour meeting.

Here are questions and answers to help navigate the new COVID reality:

Q: The state opens up next week. Will I have to keep wearing a mask?

A: That depends on whether you’re fully vaccinated, whether you’re at work, or whether you’re out and about in everyday life.

Q: I’m fully vaccinated. Will I have to wear a mask anywhere?

A: Probably. Outside, you won’t need a mask, and the state has said you can drop your mask in most indoor settings, unless it’s your workplace, where different rules apply for now. However, masks are still required for everyone on buses, trains, planes, ships, taxis and ride-share vehicles, as well as in airports, bus stations and ports. Masks are also required indoors for everyone in K-12 schools, child care facilities, health care facilities, prisons, jails and shelters.

Q: If I’m not fully vaccinated, will I have to wear a mask everywhere?

A: No, but you will need to wear one in most public indoor locations and businesses, including stores, restaurants, theaters, and government offices. And, like vaccinated people, you still need a mask on transit and other transportation, along with schools, child care facilities, health care facilities, prisons, jails and shelters.

Also, outdoors at what the state calls “mega events” such as concerts, verification of fully vaccinated status or showing a negative test result is “strongly recommended” but not required for attendees. “Attendees who do not verify vaccination status should be asked to wear face coverings,” the state public health department says.

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Q: How will mask rules be enforced?

A: It’s not entirely clear. California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says businesses can use the honor system for patrons. The state public health department says businesses have three options on masks for customers: allow people to self-attest to their vaccination status, verify vaccine status to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask, or require all patrons to wear masks.

On transit, the Valley Transportation Authority says it doesn’t allow anyone to board without a mask, with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Transit Patrol and contracted security teams as enforcers. “Warnings are given, and masks are made available,” said spokeswoman Brandi Childress. “Issuing citations is rare.”

BART spokesman Jim Allison said BART “is addressing the face covering mandate from an educational perspective rather than an enforcement perspective,” with data showing 96% compliance, and BART police and station agents offering masks to the mask-less.

Newsom’s office, the state public health department and workplace-safety regulator Cal/OSHA did not respond to questions about enforcement of mask …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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