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Long Beach, Pasadena Choose Looser Mask Rules Than LA County

A close-up profile of someone wearing a white, high-grade medical mask. A white strap is wrapped around the person's right ear.
Starting Feb. 26, you can remove your mask inside businesses in Pasadena and Long Beach, simply by giving your word that you are vaccinated.
(Chava Sanchez/Laist)
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Indoor masking rules have changed slightly in Los Angeles County, and they will be even more lenient in Long Beach and Pasadena.

Under the new health order, businesses in the city and county of L.A. have to verify the vaccination status of their workers and customers before they can remove their masks indoors. Unvaccinated customers have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter a business, and will have to keep their masks on.

But starting Feb. 26, people in Long Beach and Pasadena simply have to give their word that they are vaccinated to go maskless in most indoor public settings such as restaurants, bars or offices — no proof of vaccination required. The move puts the two health departments in line with the state’s more relaxed rules that were implemented Feb. 16, when the universal indoor mask mandate was removed. You should keep a mask handy though, because individual businesses can still choose to require everyone to mask up.

Despite being located in L.A. County, the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena operate their own independent health departments. During the omicron surge they chose to emulate the masking rules of the much larger L.A. County Department of Public Health, until now.

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L.A. County health officials aren’t ready to adopt the looser state rules, saying transmission of the virus is still too high. Health director Barbara Ferrer said the county will drop the indoor mask mandate when it reaches “moderate transmission,” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and remains there for seven days. That would mean fewer than 730 new coronavirus cases a day over a weekly period. Ferrer expects transmission to drop to that level in mid-March.

That’s not soon enough for L.A. County supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, who heavily criticized the decision, saying the move creates confusion among the public and erodes trust in the health department.

Statewide, masks are still required for everyone in schools, healthcare settings, on public transportation, and in airports.

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Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.