New York and California, two of the largest restaurant markets in the country, announced the expiration of their respective mask mandates for indoor public spaces.
California first implemented its rule in mid-December, back when the statewide seven-day average case rate increased by 47 percent and hospitalizations spiked by 14 percent. The rule was initially set to end January 15, but was extended to February 15.
When the mandate ends, vaccinated customers will no longer have to wear masks indoors, but unvaccinated individuals will still be required to do so. Gov. Gavin Newsom said hospitalizations have decreased by 65 percent, in an announcement on Twitter. As of Tuesday, 73.5 percent of California residents ages 5 and older have been fully vaccinated.
Despite the move, Los Angeles County intends to keep its indoor mask mandate. The local public health department will hold their restrictions until hospitalizations drop below 2,500 for seven straight days and case counts decrease to 50 new cases per 100,000, according to KABC News.
“This is not the right time to stop wearing our masks when around others indoors, and in outdoor crowded settings,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the media outlet.
New York’s statewide mask requirement, which started December 13, was for all indoor public places, except those that have a vaccine requirement. At the time, cases increased by more than 4,000 per day since late November. Similar to California, the mandate was set to expire January 15, but was extended to February 10.
The state’s seven-day COVID case average is about 7,000 per day, a stark decline from 85,000 on January 9, according to Johns Hopkins University. As of Tuesday morning, 74.6 percent of New York’s population were fully vaccinated.
“Positivity rates down and hospitalizations are down, cases per 100,000 are down and new admissions are down,” Hochul said. “So New Yorkers, this is what we’ve waiting for —tremendous progress after two long years.”
Other states like Delaware, Oregon, New Jersey, and Connecticut have also relented on mask mandates.