The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has extended the order requiring the use of masks indoors.
Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face covering when indoors in public settings, with limited exceptions.
The order will be in place until 5 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2022, unless it is extended or rescinded.
County health officials say as of December 20, the COVID-19 community transmission level is categorized as "High" in California and Santa Barbara County by the CDC. As of December 25, the county has a case rate of 33.5 per 100,000 and a test positivity of 9.5%.
"We are heading into the winter season facing a very different virus compared to last year. Already Omicron makes up over 60% of new infections in Santa Barbara County." shared Dr. Henning Ansorg, County Health Officer.
The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people continue to wear face coverings in public indoor settings in areas with substantial or high community transmission rates.
"We need a layered approach of protective measures to reduce transmission and severe illness. In addition to vaccination including the booster, wearing a well-fitted mask in public indoor spaces does give additional protection to the wearer and limits transmission of COVID to others. We are asking everyone to help reduce unnecessary illness and suffering by following this health order," said Dr. Ansorg.
Health officials say they are considering rescinding the indoor mask mandate if the county's case rate is 7.0 cases per 100,000 people or lower for three consecutive weeks and hospitalizations are low and stable for at least three days.
The current mask mandate was put into place in August and was originally set to expire in September. This is the fifth time it has been extended.
To read the full Health Officer Order mandating indoor mask usage, click here.
For more information on Santa Barbara County's coronavirus response, visit publichealthsbc.org.