Update: Santa Clara County announced they will not lift the mask mandate on Feb. 15 despite the change in state-wide restrictions. Director of Public Health Sara Cody said she will likely lift it in the coming weeks if case numbers and hospitalization rates decrease.
The other eight counties in the Bay Area will lift their mask mandates in accordance with the rest of California.
Masks will no longer be required indoors for those who are vaccinated in California starting Feb. 15, Gavin Newsom announced today.
According to the California state health officials’ press release, changes to state policy will affect the counties without their own mask mandates as soon as the restriction lifting goes into effect. Counties with individual, outstanding policies, such as Santa Clara County, will have the choice to maintain their current protocols or adjust their policies to reflect the state’s.
In the press release, California’s Director of Public Health Dr. Tomás J. Aragón said with vaccines available for children under 5 and increasing access to treatments for COVID-19, the state will continue to adjust policies to fit safety protocols.
“With things heading in the right direction, we are making responsible modifications to COVID-19 prevention measures, while also continuing to develop a longer-term action plan for the state,” Aragón said.
Aragón said he anticipates part of the longer-term action plan will include lifting restrictions for public schools, potentially in a few months.
Paly sophomore Anna Feng said she believes the new mandate is dangerous and hopes restrictions are maintained.
“I’m glad this doesn’t apply to public schools,” Feng said. “I hope Santa Clara County won’t change their guidelines and will maintain mask mandates inside.”
Feng said the lack of masks in general made her uneasy, and she plans to keep her mask on regardless of whether restrictions are lifted. She said she hopes others will do the same.
“I don’t feel very comfortable with this,” Feng said. “I’m fully vaccinated and boosted, but there are still new variants out there and not having masks on will only expedite the process of new variants spreading — it is not okay for us to be taking our masks off right now.”
Paly senior and co-president of the Public Health Club Vienna Liu falls in the middle of the debate. She said she thinks the lifting of restrictions is premature, but recognizes what the state is attempting to do.
“I think they’re trying to push us back to where we used to be,” Liu said. “But I think everything is different now, and we need to accept the changes to our world and make sure to proceed with caution.”
Liu said she does not support the change in policy because of the actions it encourages.
“I think (the change in mandates) encourages the idea of everyone being more lax about everything,” Liu said. “I think we still need to be aware and cognizant of just how quickly this can spread. Personally, I’m still not comfortable with the idea of being indoors without masks.”
However, Liu said that she recognizes the state’s attempt to return California residents to a more normal lifestyle.
“I get what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to help us move forward,” Liu said. “And in general, I think that our community is pretty safe. But at the same time, I just don’t see the urgency.”