Sonoma County sets criteria for dropping mask mandates

Posted on October 9, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

With Covid cases decreasing and the vaccine rate on the rise, Sonoma County joined eight other Bay Area public health officers in setting the criteria for dropping the indoor-mask mandate.

Most Bay Area health departments issued the masking requirements on August 3 in response to a summer surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. But with regional data showing that the surge is now receding, and with the Bay Area one of the most vaccinated regions in the country, Health Officers from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma and the City of Berkeley agree it is time to plan for a transition.

Hitting the target numbers — including a region-wide 80% vaccination rate — are likely two to three months away.

Even then lifting a local indoor mask mandate would not prevent businesses, nonprofits, churches or others with public indoor spaces from imposing their own requirements.

California’s masking guidelines in K-12 schools would also not be affected by changes to local health orders.

But in general, the indoor mask rule be lifted when:

  • The jurisdiction reaches the moderate (yellow) COVID-19 transmission tier, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and remains there for at least three weeks; AND
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in the jurisdiction are low and stable, in the judgment of the health officer; AND
  •   80% of the jurisdiction’s total population is fully vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson (booster doses not considered) OR eight weeks have passed since a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by federal and state authorities for 5- to 11-year-olds.

The state also requires face coverings for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in health-care facilities, public transit and adult and senior care facilities. 

“It is no accident that transmission is slowing in Sonoma County. Public health interventions, including the masking requirement, are working,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer. “We believe that health orders, along with vaccination, outreach and education are all adding layers of protection against COVID-19 in our community – and saving lives.”

 As COVID-19 easily spreads through airborne droplets, and face coverings remain highly powerful in preventing its spread, Mase said. 

Each jurisdiction will rescind its order when criteria are met in that respective county or city. (The city of Sonoma follows County protocol).

California’s health guidance for the use of face coverings will remain in effect after local masking requirements are lifted, meaning that people who are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 must continue to wear masks in businesses and indoor public spaces.

Visit for local information about COVID-19 and Sonoma County’s emergency response to the pandemic.


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