U.S. San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Thursday that so long as case and hospitalization rates remain stable or decline, indoor masking requirements will be lifted on Oct. 15 in certain, limited settings, APA reports.
This includes places where stable cohorts of fully vaccinated individuals gather, and where other safety measures are followed, the announcement said.
These settings include offices, gyms, and fitness centers, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings, and indoor college classes or other organized gatherings of individuals who meet regularly, not exceeding 100 people, according to the announcement.
People in these settings may remove their masks if the employer or host of the gathering can control access to the setting and verify 100 percent full vaccination of everyone in the setting. The employer or host must also ensure proper ventilation, no recent COVID-19 outbreaks, and children under 12 and guests are not present, among other safety measures, it added.
"I'm excited that we're once again at a place where we can begin easing the mask requirements, which is the direct result of the fact that we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, our cases have fallen, and our residents have done their part to keep themselves and those around them safe," said Breed.
"Our economy is bouncing back, the city feels like it is coming alive again, and this is yet another milestone in our recovery," she added.
San Francisco, in concert with eight other Bay Area jurisdictions, also released the criteria for lifting the indoor universal mask mandate in most other settings once a sustained period of low and stable COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been achieved and a high threshold of the population is fully vaccinated, including children.
"Throughout this pandemic we've implemented common sense measures like masking and vaccinations to protect us through four surges in COVID-19 while keeping hospitalizations manageable," said City Health Director Grant Colfax.
San Francisco has a current weekly average case rate of 77 cases per 100,000, a drop from 309 at the height of the summer's surge. Cases among fully vaccinated individuals are currently at 7.4 per 100,000, while among those not fully vaccinated are 14.4 per 100,000.