(KTXL) — The statewide mask mandate requiring everyone to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, goes into effect in California Wednesday.
The mandate comes as families gather for the holidays, and more cases of the omicron variant are reported.
Dr. Mark Ghaly cited Monday a statewide 47% increase in COVID-19 cases since Thanksgiving, and the California Department of Public Health reported a 14% increase in hospitalizations.
Dr. Ghaly did not elaborate on how the mandate would be enforced.
“We know that there’s going to be people who don’t necessarily agree with this, who are tired, who aren’t going to mask,” Ghaly said. “We hope that those are few and far between, that most people see the purpose of doing this over the next month as something to protect them and their communities during a very tough time.”
Ghaly said enforcement would likely be stronger in some places than others, but he urged Californians to heed the warnings and wear masks.
The mandate is expected to expire on Jan. 15.
“Our collective actions can save lives this holiday season. We are already seeing a higher level of transmission this winter and it is important to act now to prevent overwhelming our busy hospitals so we can provide quality health care to all Californians,” added Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the CDPH director and the state’s public health officer.
Travelers who visit or return to California are also recommended to get tested within 3-5 days of arriving.
California is also tightening existing testing requirements by ordering unvaccinated people attending indoor “mega-events” of 1,000 people or more to have a negative test within one or two days, depending on the type of test.
The Golden 1 Center announced new safety protocols Tuesday, requiring all fans ages 2 years and older to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
The previous statewide mask mandate was lifted for vaccinated Californians on June 15, a date Gov. Gavin Newsom heralded as the state’s grand reopening. Since then, county governments covering about half of the state’s population have imposed their own indoor mask mandates as case rates surged with new variants.
An order in Sacramento County requiring everyone, no matter their vaccination status, to wear a mask indoors while in public has been in effect since July.
In other counties, such as El Dorado County, local mandates have not been implemented.
As of Tuesday, California has confirmed 4,891,985 COVID-19 cases and 74,704 deaths. Over 80% of all Californians eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have received at least one dose, according to the CDPH.
The CDPH said unvaccinated Californians are falling ill, being hospitalized and dying at a much higher rate than other residents. In data released Monday, the CDPH reported unvaccinated residents are 7.1 times more likely to get COVID-19, 12.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus and 13 times more likely to die from complications of the virus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.