Marin County will relax its rules requiring masks be worn indoors on October 15 by letting people uncover their faces in settings where everyone is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
This applies to offices, gyms, religious gatherings and college classrooms, among other settings.
Officials hope the lure of a mask exemption will entice more people to get vaccinated. Roughly 92% of Marin residents aged 12 and up are vaccianted, according to a county estimate.
"We’re not ready to lift the mandate across the board, but we’re in a good place to ease restrictions for the safest settings." said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer. "Science shows that when an entire group is vaccinated, the risk of infection is much lower. Some settings have already adopted mandatory vaccination policies for all staff and customers, and this gives more incentive for others to follow suit."
There are other restrictions, though. For instance, gatherings with crowds of 100 or more people will require masks. If children under 12 are present, masks must be worn, because kids cannot get vaccinated. For more details, click here.
The standard is similar to a policy that San Francisco officials announced Thursday that would also take effect on October 15.
Officials representing much of the Bay Area, including Marin, had also unveiled other criteria for completely lifting the mask requirements.
To meet the criteria there must be 80% of the total population is vaccinated against COVID-19 and a low and stable hospitalization rate for the virus. The county must also get elevated into the CDC's yellow tier for a moderate transmission rate of the coronavirus.
The mask requirements would also be lifted eight weeks after federal and state officials approve emergency use of a COVID vaccine for children aged 5 and up. Currently, 12-year-olds are the youngest people eligible to be vaccinated.
It's unlikely that under these rules any Bay Area county would lift its requirements before mid-December
The indoor mask requirements were re-introduced to much of the Bay Area in early August as the health officers warned about the rapid spread of the delta variant.