SAN JOSE, Calif. - The new recommendation from Bay Area health officers to mask up indoors conflicts with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidance saying if you’re vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask. The recommendation has led to some confusion.
Health experts want to stress wearing a mask indoors adds another layer of protection on top of getting the vaccine. It also helps slow the spread.
"It’s been a little tough with customers," said Pairings Wine Bar & Restaurant Manager Erick Cardenas.
Cardenas said customers are split over new guidance in the Bay Area urging everyone to wear a mask indoors.
"Some of them don't really want to wear it, I think right now it’s 50/50," said Cardenas.
The servers at the restaurant are all donning their masks since not all staff are vaccinated. Some patrons are also playing it safe.
"We are all kind of just starting not to get used to wearing it anymore and I actually still have been for the most part," said Michelle Chang of Pleasanton.
"First it’s take it off, put it on, take it off, put it on," said Gary Farfan of San Jose.
The Farfan family from San Jose said the mask guidance has been confusing.
"How I feel, it’s mixed messages," said Farfan.
"The problem is we don't know who’s vaccinated and who’s not when you are indoors," said Dr. John Swartzberg of U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health.
Dr. Swartzberg said the honor system businesses rely on isn’t working as COVID infections rise throughout the Bay Area. He also said unvaccinated individuals are driving up numbers due to the highly contagious Delta variant.
"Over 99 percent of the hospitalizations and deaths are due to people who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated," said Dr. Swartzberg.
Dr. Monica Gandhi from UCSF said most of the transmission is likely caused by private gatherings among the unvaccinated.
She also said Bay Area health officials are recommending masks not requiring them since hospitalizations are low with less than five COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
"It’s just safer to put your mask on when you go in indoor spaces, they are really trying to stress the effectiveness of the vaccines," said Dr. Gandhi.
"I’m thinking all the news coming out right now with the Delta variant," said Susan Raphael of Pleasanton. "I heard there’s another one also, maybe more people will take more heed to it."
Experts said Bay Area health officers are reluctant to go back to restrictions that could hurt people’s livelihoods. Instead, they are pushing people to get vaccinated and tracking hospitalizations closely.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.