‘Ridiculous’: Return of indoor mask mandates frustrates Bay Area businesses

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Several Bay Area Counties alongside Contra Costa Country announced the return of masks at all indoor settings. 

The City of Berkeley, Alameda, San Francisco, and Marin counties have announced Wednesday the return of masks indoors, including in gyms and fitness studios. 

“It’s prudent right now for us to take this measure of safety, where we know we can protect people against infection,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.

Previously, several counties have mask-wearing exemptions for vaccinated citizens. 

“At this point it’s just ridiculous, this has been two years on and off,” said Adam Kovacs, owner of Sonoma Fit in Novato. He worries that the return of the mask-wearing mandate will keep people from signing up for gym memberships, especially during the new years where the fitness industry is at its peak. 

“We need that strong quarter after two years of being impacted as we have been,” said Kovacs.

“Masks are good. They lower the risk, but what really minimizes the risk is maintaining good health,” he continued.

Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis understands the frustration, but says the change is necessary due to the rising case numbers.

“Our hope is that as was experienced in other places, the omicron surge goes up very quickly it may plateau quickly and then start coming down, at which point we would be equally responsive in terms of removing any barriers and any overly restrictive policies at that point,” said Willis.

Meantime, San Francisco announced the booster requirements for workers in healthcare and high-risk settings by February 1. Hosts of indoor events with 1,000 or more people attending are required to present proof of up-to-date vaccinations, including a booster received one week prior or a negative COVID test. 

Following CDC’s guidance, San Francisco requires people who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic to isolate for 5 days instead of 10 and additional masking for 5 days.