Individual policies and basing vaccine status on honor system may lead to mask confusion

As California reopens on Tuesday, the mask mandate will be lifted in most indoor settings for fully vaccinated people. However, there are some exceptions. People will be still be required to wear a mask on public transportation, in K through 12 schools, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, correctional facilities and homeless shelters.

Safeway, Costco and Apple are just some of the companies that are dropping mask requirements for vaccinated customers. Businesses and venues can impose stricter rules if they choose.

Some businesses are telling their customers masks are optional, others mask-free. Many businesses are still trying to figure out their mask policies. There’s a wide range of mixed emotions heading into Tuesday’s big transition.

After 15 months where a mask was a permanent accessory for Californians, people who are vaccinated can take that mask off.

"Oh we are so excited, definitely really excited," said 24 Hour Fitness General Manager Kelsey Kearns.

At the 24 Hour Fitness in San Jose, starting Tuesday, masks are optional. Those who aren’t vaccinated will still be required to wear one.

"We are doing an honor system if you are vaccinated," said Kearns. "You are welcome to work out without a mask. You can also continue working out with a mask as well."

"I’m burning my mask," said Christina Dyok of San Jose. "I’m ready. I feel safe and like I said I’ve been vaccinated for a couple months."

"It’s exciting but I think I’m going to continue wearing a mask for a couple of weeks," said Basila Nathan of San Jose.

Nathan said while it’s difficult to work out with a mask, she’s concerned about new variants.

"People have mixed feelings about this and clearly some people are pretty anxious about it, they still want to wear their mask," said Dr. Thomas Plante, Santa Clara University Psychology Professor.

Dr. Plante worries once the masks are off, the gloves will be off too and the debate over mask wearing could lead to more conflicts.

"I think we have to be gentle and kind with each other, try to be respectful and compassionate with each other," said Dr. Plante.

Health experts also said don’t judge a book by its cover. Those who wear a mask may be fully vaccinated but may be immunocompromised and more at risk.

"Some people who are fully vaccinated who have severe underlying medical complications like an organ transplant or a malignancy or on immunosuppressive therapy with some connective tissue disease," said Dr. George Rutherford of UCSF Professor of Epidemiology.

The Bible Way Christian Center in San Jose is holding in-person services for the first time this Sunday. The center is strongly encouraging but not requiring all congregants vaccinated or not to mask up.

"There are a lot of people who are still concerned about the virus and we want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in the worship setting," said Lorianna Gardere of Bible Way Christian Center.

Dr. Rutherford from UCSF advises children over the age of two who have not been vaccinated should still wear a mask indoors in crowded settings. He said even though children are less likely to get infected, they are still at risk.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or