Alameda County is reinstating a mask requirement for most indoor public settings starting Friday, health officials announced Thursday.
The requirement will be in effect at most indoor public settings, including grocery stores and gyms, and aims to limit the impact of a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment,” Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said in a statement. “We cannot ignore the data, and we can’t predict when this wave may end. Putting our masks back on gives us the best opportunity to limit the impact of a prolonged wave on our communities.”
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Students and staff at K-12 schools will not be required to wear masks under the order through the end of the 2021-2022 school year, according to the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, but they will be required in all other settings for children including summer school and youth programs.
The order will not apply to the city of Berkeley, which operates as its own local health jurisdiction. A spokesperson for the city did not respond when asked whether Berkeley will align with the county.
Alameda County is the first county in the Bay Area to reinstate mask requirements in indoor public settings since February, when the state and most counties in the greater Bay Area lifted mask requirements that were implemented to combat the winter surge driven by the omicron variant.
Meanwhile, masks will be required inside the Oakland Airport due to the mask mandate.
An airport spokesperson told NBC Bay Area that they will supply airlines with masks to give to arriving passengers, who may be caught off guard. Masks will also be available at the info booths.
Health officials will continue to monitor cases and hospitalizations to determine when the order can be lifted.
Bay City News contributed to this article.