SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGTV) — California has extended its statewide indoor mask mandate, state health officials announced Wednesday.
According to Dr. Mark Ghaly, the Secretary of the California Health and Human Services agency, the mandate was extended through February 15.
“Omicron is here and it’s here now,” Ghaly said, adding that the situation this year differs from last due to knowledge and booster shots, as well as more testing capacities.
“We are already expecting it all the way to May,” Sarah Arjmand, Director of Market for Greystone Prime Steakhouse & Seafood, said.
Something businesses in the iconic Gaslamp Quarter and local health officials aren’t too surprised to hear happen.
“Everyone’s out and trying to take necessary measures as much as possible,” Arjmand said.
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“It goes back to that we used at the beginning of the epidemic, ‘flattening the curve,’ so right now we are seeing a huge spike in cases,” Dr. Davey Smith, Chief of Infectious Disease & Global Public Health at UCSD, said.
“And this big spike in cases from the omicron variant are causing lots of problems.”
Health officials also said the state is in a good place compared to 2021, noting that the main concern currently is hospitals.
The mandate was set to be re-evaluated on January 15, but has been pushed back amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The previous mandate was issued in mid-December, and requires everyone to wear masks in all indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.
“But, the virus has evolved with us and it’s causing problems right now. And I expect for years every now and then we are going to have spikes that occur,” Smith said.
“And, we’re going to have to say okay we’re going to have to put our masks back on. That’s going to be the new normal I think.”
Some in the restaurant industry would like to know if that is the new normal given all of the changes they’ve experienced during the pandemic.
“To be honest, it’s a deja vu that we never want to think about, you know. It’s extremely hard for us. We’ve had a really hard year,” Arjmand said.
“At the same time, we want to do whatever it takes not to shut down again. But if it does help us keep our employees and staff safe and our guest most important, we’re all about it.”
Dr. Ghaly said that this state-wide mandate will be ended once the pressure on hospitals eases and cases are improving. If projections show a promising trend, the mandate will end.