While still required at the moment, health officials throughout the Bay Area have released a roadmap for dropping indoor mask requirements.
The short answer: it's not now, but soon, sort of. Matt Brown is a spokesperson for the county of Sonoma.
"Realistically, we are still a few months away from meeting all the criteria that Bay Area health officers have laid out."
Several criteria must be met in each county, before the requirements are dropped. "Case rate and testing positivity both need to be low, in the low levels. To reach the yellow tier, new cases per 100,000 need to be below 50 and the testing positivity needs to be below 8%," Brown said.
That's the federal CDC's yellow tier, not the groupings set up last year by the California Department of Public Health.
Plus, at least 80 percent of county residents 12 and up must be fully vaccinated too. Currently that figure is 77 percent.
Officials say they will drop that criteria from the rubric eight weeks after the FDA approves a vaccine for children. The FDA may make that approval before Thanksgiving, meaning likely some time in January.
Word that indoor mask mandates could end soon, may cause confusion. Restrictions have tightened recently. Earlier this week, the city of Los Angeles followed San Francisco in requiring proof of vaccination to enter most indoor spaces. That's a step Sonoma County hasn't taken----yet.
It's counterintuitive, Brown reasoned, but if you want to ditch the masks once and for all, keep wearing them for now.
"Frankly, nobody wants to wear a mask, everybody is looking forward to a day when we can return going into indoor spaces without having to remember that mask that you may have forgotten in the car, but COVID is still spreading in the community and until we can reach these few benchmarks we need to continue to practice these safe mitigation measures including wearing masks."