Starting this February 1, office workers in San Francisco, as well as gym members and other groups of people can remove their masks indoors again.
The face protection exemption, which was in place before the last Omicron wave, was reinstated, city and county authorities said.
They specified that given the highly transmissible nature of this variant, an additional requirement is established: people in these stable groups should be up to date on their vaccinations, including the primary series and boosters when eligible, as the best protection against the virus.
Other COVID-19 safety guidelines in these settings remain in effect and include a measure for others who do not or cannot meet the vaccination requirements to join other groups, provided they show a negative test and wear a facemask.
New actions include access for clients to "mega events" of 500 people or more, indoors, as long as they show a negative COVID-19 test, or demonstrate that they have all their vaccination and booster doses, if eligible, and wear a facemask.
Other changes allow for religious and medical exemptions to vaccination requirements with a negative COVID-19 test, in places such as restaurants, bars, gyms, fitness centers and other places where food or beverages are consumed, or where people have difficulty breathing.
The public should be aware that people in some settings may not be fully vaccinated or boostered and should therefore use good judgment when attending meetings or events, the local government said.
The indoor facemask mandate in San Francisco remains in effect for most public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
"As we emerge from this latest surge and face a future in which COVID-19 will remain among us, San Francisco will take a balanced approach in our response to the disease by aligning with state requirements and guidelines where we can do so safely," said Health Officer Susan Philip, M.D. "We will be looking at the future of COVID-19 as we move forward," said Dr. Philip.
Rapid antigen testing can be performed one day prior to an entry to events or facilities, and PCR laboratory testing can be performed within two days prior to entry.
A photo taken from a self-administered rapid antigen test - such as a home test - will not be acceptable proof of a negative test, as third party verification of the test result will be required.
For these events and locations, a printed or electronic document from the test or laboratory may be used.
The health order also added a definition of "booster-eligible," which means when a person qualifies to receive an additional dose of the vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
Until a person is eligible for a booster, they are considered "up to date" with their vaccination.
Of note, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) recommends that individuals be vaccinated or receive a booster dose as soon as possible, at least 10 days, but no more than 30, after recovery from infection and discontinuation of isolation, unless a health care provider has a compelling reason to delay.
Additional changes to the health order affect personnel in high-risk settings and include extending the deadline by one month - from February 1 to March 1 - for personnel in high-risk settings to be up-to-date on vaccinations, which means receiving a booster vaccination when eligible.
The extension of the deadline aligns with state requirements, but also includes SF Health Order requirements on back-ups for individuals whose regular work schedule is outside of designated high-risk settings, but who visit high-risk settings as part of their job, such as police officers, paramedics, and deputy sheriffs working in jails.
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