Health officials in seven Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley issued a new indoor mask mandate Monday as the region faces a wave of new Covid-19 cases due to the more infectious delta variant and the remaining swath of unvaccinated residents.
The mandate will take effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties as well as Berkeley and require residents to wear a mask indoors in public settings like retail stores, regardless of whether they’re vaccinated or not.
Health officials in the seven counties also urged residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible if they have yet to do so, noting that the prevalence of the delta variant puts unvaccinated people at even higher risk of infection, serious illness and death.
While so-called breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people are possible, the health officials noted they remain exceedingly rare and the three available vaccines also significantly reduce the chance of developing serious illness or dying from Covid-19.
“We know that face coverings work to prevent the circulation of the virus, and with contagious variants spreading it has become clear that mask wearing is again necessary,” Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said in a statement on Monday. “Masking and vaccinations are the most important tools we have to end the pandemic. The vaccine is safe, effective, free and widely available. We encourage all residents to do their part in wearing their masks to keep themselves, their families and their community safe.”