Californians, businesses eagerly await updated mask guidelines from state

Bay Area businesses are eagerly awaiting an announcement from the state on mask guidelines.

Thursday the CDC revised its recommendations, saying fully vaccinated people could resume most indoor and outdoor activities without a mask or physical distancing.

But with no update from the state, it’s leading to some confusion, especially for business owners.

California has not revised its guidelines since the CDC updated theirs.

And though some big retailers have already started dropping their mask mandate, some local businesses are still trying to figure out what to do.

The owner of Nathan and Company, a fine gift shop with a store on College Avenue in Oakland, says he and fellow business owners are sharing knowledge about whether to update their mask policies.

At his shop, for now, masks are still mandatory.

"All the merchants were texting and asking questions and asking each other about protocols and what we plan on doing for our individual businesses," said owner Nathan Waldon.

Some large retailers like Trader Joes are already allowing those who are fully vaccinated to shop inside with no mask, which aligns with new CDC guidance.

"I will tell you that the CDC guidelines are very based in fact," said UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi.

Gandhi says if California decides to wait to life mask rules, perhaps until June 15th, the anticipated date of a full state re-opening, science shows the move will be justified.

But she says she would have preferred to see clearer coordinated guidance that didn’t leave people conflicted with federal guidelines.

"Before the CDC put out their guidance on Thursday, I was actually tweeting very publicly and also writing people saying that I think there should be a metric, there should be a metric where we lift them for everybody, so there’s no confusion," said Gandhi.

Without that metric or state guidance, local businesses are forced to figure it out on their own.

We found an Oakland bookstore, and a Hardware store continuing to enforce mask-wearing, for now.

And the owner of Nathan and Company says he’s not eager to alter his policy either.

"I need to really watch and see how it all kind of plays out," said Waldon.

California has already administered 34-million vaccines and 15-million are fully vaccinated.

Because of the proven efficacy of covid vaccines, experts say when California does decide to do away with masks, they’ll likely be gone for good.

"After we tamp down transmission there isn’t going to be any more variants, so yes, this will be the last time we will wear masks for this respiratory pathogen from a scientific point of view, unless there’s another pathogen, and hopefully there won’t be," said Dr. Gandhi.

If you are not fully vaccinated it is recommended you continue to wear a mask.

An update on state guidelines is expected any day.