California to end mask mandate for healthcare workers, visitors, and patients in healthcare settings

Posted at 5:10 PM, Apr 03, 2023

Californians now have the option to either wear a mask or go maskless in dental offices, hospitals, and other indoor healthcare facilities.

April 3 marks the end of mandated masking for healthcare workers, visitors, and patients in California’s healthcare settings.

It’s all part of new guidance from the state's Department of Public Health.

Local hospitals on the Central Coast are following these changes.

“You should have seen the smiles on the people's faces today. I mean, I think people are happy to move forward, both visitors as well as staff," said French Hospital Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Vendegna.

Not everyone is happy to hear about these changes. For some community members, there is still some hesitation to remove a mask mandate that has been in place since June 2020.

“I get that it's not a state mandate and so, you know, everywhere else they don't have to require it. But I feel like for a hospital, for hospitals where very sensitive people, you know, are at, that doesn't make any sense to me," said Orcutt resident Cindy Smith.

“It's touch and go because I think people should still be wary about it because there are things going around in the air right now, and I think people should be real careful, especially at my age, 82 years old. I don't want to get sick," said Santa Maria resident Andrew Chavez.

The removal of the mandate applies regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

“There are settings where we need to wear masks, and that's back to where we were pre-COVID, and that is in respiratory isolation cases where there is an infectious disease that someone can be exposed," Dr. Vendegna explained.

Along with Dignity Health, Lompoc Valley Medical Center told KSBY they are also ending masking for their employees in high-risk settings.

There are some exceptions for workers to keep in mind.

“Workers who are not vaccinated or choose not to be vaccinated for influenza or for health reasons are not vaccinated, they have to wear a mask until May 1," Vendegna added

People can still choose to wear a mask if they prefer.

Local medical providers add that just because the mask mandate has been removed doesn’t mean it can’t return.

“If COVID starts to influx in our county, the county has the right to say that mask mandate needs to go back in health care facilities," Vendegna said.

Also, effective April 3, the state will no longer require healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.