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Indoor mask mandate ends across state; Marin tightens vaccination requirement for first responders

Marin residents vaccinated against COVID-19 can once again shed their masks in most indoor settings starting today, Feb. 16, after the state this week dropped its universal face-masking mandate that required everyone — regardless of vaccination status — to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces. The relaxing of that rule comes as the county is also tightening vaccination mandates for first responders, requiring them to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 beginning April 15 in order to work in high-risk settings or interact with the public.

The California Department of Public Health last week announced it would let the statewide universal-masking order expire as planned on Feb. 15; it was instituted two months earlier, on Dec. 15, amid a drastic spike in virus cases caused by the omicron variant. State public-health officials justified the change by noting the surge is quickly declining, vaccines for those 5 and under — the only group not currently eligible for inoculation — are around the corner and access to COVID-19 treatments has improved.

Local jurisdictions are still allowed to be more prohibitive than the state in implementing public-health orders to protect against the virus. However, Marin announced last week it would align with the updated state rule, as it currently has no local mandate requiring masks indoors for the fully vaccinated — those who have completed either the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna series or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. Unvaccinated individuals over the age of 2 are still required to wear masks in public indoor settings, and local businesses may set their own masking requirements for customers.

Indoor masking is still required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, on public transportation; in health-care facilities; in congregate settings, such as correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities; and indoors at all K-12 school and child-care settings.

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