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California aligns mask guidelines with CDC

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Posted at 6:23 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 01:46:18-04

Mask wearing is slowly becoming a thing of the past for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The CDC and the State of California have recently updated their guidelines in the past week, allowing those inoculated to go without a mask in public more often.

If you are vaccinated, you are not required to wear a face mask at small gatherings both indoors and outdoors, but state health experts say unvaccinated people should.

“What [the updated guidelines] really do though is to encourage people to get fully vaccinated because only when everybody has been fully vaccinated can we dispense of masks altogether,” said Dr. Chuck Merrill, Chief Medical Officer at Marian Regional Medical Center.

The CDC and state guidelines say fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks while outdoors, but say everyone, regardless of vaccine status, should wear a mask in large crowded events like concerts or sports games.

Both also say everyone should wear face coverings while shopping, dining, exercising or attending events indoors.

As event planners like Kramer Events get back to work, enforcement is unclear.

“[The state] said if [guests] are vaccinated then they are cool, you can have greater capacity, but they didn't tell us how. They just said the host has to do it. So who is the host? We've asked that question to the state and we've asked that question to the local government and the answer we get is that they are not clear,” said Beau Kramer, owner of Kramer Events.

Kramer, who provides live music and other entertainment at events, said it’s usually up to the venue or client to track vaccinations and abide by state and federal rules, but that can be difficult when there are discrepancies between agencies.

“From our perspective on how we work for the event, it's hard for us to be the police to tell the clients we are going to walk out if you don't do these things. It’s difficult for us, maybe easier for the venue,” Kramer said.

California doesn't go into as much detail when it comes to unvaccinated people wearing masks in outdoor settings.

KSBY asked state health officials for clarification. In an email, they said, “Californians exercising outdoors are not required to wear or put on a mask when walking, running or biking past other people.”

Some doctors still recommend protection for those without the shot.

“When you are outside, you are less likely to get infected. Nonetheless, if I am vaccinated and I am out hiking, I can feel free to not wear a mask; however, if I am not fully vaccinated and I am coming face to face with people, I should wear a mask,” Dr. Merrill said.

State health experts do recommend unvaccinated people wear or bring a face covering with them in case they are exposed to someone outside their immediate household for more than a few minutes.

San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County public health officials said they are following state guidance.