Los Angeles to lift mask mandate in theaters and other indoor venues
Los Angeles County will on Friday drop its indoor mask mandate for indoor venues where patrons must show proof of vaccination to enter, including theaters and restaurants.
The departmental directorate of public health issued the command Wednesday. It only applies to places and businesses that check vaccination passports or proof of a recent negative COVID test – but not to businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies where such restrictions are not in place.
Under the new rule, customers who present proof of vaccination will be able to remove their mask indoors. Those who choose to show a negative test instead will have to keep their mask on. Employers also have the option of allowing their employees to remove their masks, if employees are vaccinated.
The state of California dropped its indoor mask mandate last Wednesday, but some counties kept their mandates in place due to local transmission rates. Barbara Ferrer, director of the LA County Department of Public Health, previously said she plans to lift the mask mandate in all areas in late March.
But the department has come under increasing political pressure to align with state guidelines. Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, two of the five county board members, publicly debated last week that it was time to lift the mandate.
“I believe we are starting to lose the trust of the people,” Hahn said on Twitter. “We’ve already seen thousands of people flagrantly violate LA County’s Super Bowl mask mandate.”
Barger also called for more urgency on the issue, saying “the end of interior masking mandates may be imminent, but it’s not happening fast enough.”
Ferrer told the oversight board last week that she would consider lifting the mandate “at certain sites where there are additional layers of protection, including sites that verify the vaccination of all people who enter those particular places.” . She said she hoped to do so “relatively soon”.
On Tuesday, Hahn announced that Ferrer would issue the updated health order shortly.
“LA County DPH is issuing a new health ordinance (it looks like it will go into effect Friday) allowing vaccinated people to remove their masks indoors in places that verify proof of vaccination,” he said. she writes on Twitter. “This brings us significantly closer to alignment with the state.”
Hahn’s spokesman said Ferrer announced the policy earlier in the day during a call with indoor venue operators. The new order was published on Wednesday and takes effect on Friday.
Update Wednesday with order details.