Santa Barbara County Recommends Masks Indoors for Everyone

Latest Recommendation Comes as Precautionary Measure Against Increased Circulation of COVID-19

Out of an abundance of caution, Santa Barbara County is urging people to wear masks indoors in settings such as grocery or retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

The County of Santa Barbara Public Health Department released a recommendation for wearing masks indoors and in public places, regardless of vaccination status.

The statement was released Monday as a “precaution against increased circulation of COVID-19,” in response to the latest reports that showed a recent spike in cases in the county, especially with the highly transmissible Delta variant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that Delta variants are now responsible for 58 percent of new infections across the country.

“Out of an abundance of caution, people are recommended to wear masks indoors in settings like grocery or retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers, even if they are fully vaccinated as an added layer of protection for unvaccinated residents,” said the press release.

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The county’s recommendation comes just over a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the state’s previous mask mandate on June 15. One of the reasons stated in the release included ensuring “easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked,” since most private businesses have taken to “honor system” policies that do not require masks indoors for those who have received vaccines.

Businesses are now being urged to adopt “universal masking requirements” for customers entering indoor areas, workplaces must comply with Cal/OSHA requirements, and fully vaccinated employees are encouraged to wear masks indoors if their employer has not confirmed their vaccination status.

“We have a method of preventing severe illness and hospitalization from the COVID-19 Delta variant which we know is effective, and that is getting vaccinated,” said Santa Barbara Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso. “It remains critical for protection against infection, especially with circulating variants.”

The county public health department will revisit this recommendation as they continue to monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths, and increasing vaccination rates.

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