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Tipsheet

California Will Not Extend State Mask Mandate

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Monday that the statewide indoor mask mandate will not be extended for the vaccinated beyond Feb. 15.

Unvaccinated individuals, however, will still be required to mask up when indoors after the mandate's expiration.

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"Our statewide indoor mask requirement will expire on 2/15. Unvaccinated people will still need to wear masks indoors," Newsom said in a tweet. 

Students and staff will also still be required to masks in schools but data will be monitored and policies will be adjusted accordingly, a spokesperson from the governor's office said, according to NBC News.

Local governments will still be allowed to maintain indoor mask mandates.

"The current hospital census is still over capacity, but the dramatic surge in cases and hospitalizations due to the highly infectious Omicron variant over the last two months has declined significantly," the California Department of Public Health wrote Monday in its new guidance

"Californians are also increasingly knowledgeable about how to protect themselves and their loved ones with effective masks when there may be risk of COVID-19 exposure," the guidance continued. "Accordingly, it is now appropriate for the universal indoor masking requirement to expire on February 15, 2022 as scheduled."

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The announcement comes two months after a state mask mandate was reinstated in December following the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The mandate had previously been lifted in June.

According to California data, more than 70 percent of state residents at least 5-years-old have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

But critics of the governor have questioned the timing of Monday's announcement as Newsom seeks reelection as state governor in November, and just a week after he was scrutinized for attending an NFL playoff game maskless.

New Jersey, Oregon, Connecticut and Delaware also announced Monday their plans to lift statewide masking requirements.

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