The COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing infection, disease, and spread. Unvaccinated persons are more likely to get infected and spread the virus which is transmitted through the air and concentrates indoors. About 15% of our population remains without the option for vaccination (children under 12 years old are not yet eligible) and the risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection will remain until we reach full community immunity.
The purpose of this guidance is to align with CDC recommendations and provide information about higher-risk settings where masks are required or recommended to prevent transmission to persons with a higher risk of infection (e.g., unvaccinated or immunocompromised persons), to persons with prolonged, cumulative exposures (e.g., workers), or to persons whose vaccination status is unknown. When people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask correctly, they protect others as well as themselves. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors.
In workplaces, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or in some workplaces, the CalOSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.
Masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals, except in the following settings where masks are required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status:
Additionally, masks are required** for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses (examples: retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, state and local government offices serving the public).
For additional information, individuals should refer to CDC Recommendations for Safer Activities (see CDPH Masking Guidance Frequently Asked Questions for more information).
In settings where masks are required only for unvaccinated individuals, businesses, venue operators or hosts may choose to:
The following individuals are exempt from wearing masks at all times: