The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a press release on July 15 indicating that on July 16 it will post a modified county Health Officer Order requiring everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in indoor public settings and businesses beginning Saturday, July 17, at 11:59 pm.[1] With this order, Los Angeles County will be more restrictive than the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, and Cal/OSHA, all of which allow fully vaccinated individuals to forgo wearing a mask in most indoor settings.

Some exceptions to the order will apply, similar to masking requirements that were in effect prior to the June 15 “reopening.” The exceptions likely will include indoor dining when eating or drinking, but the order otherwise will require wearing a face mask when in a public dining setting indoors. The order will apply to the entire county except Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own independent health departments. Long Beach announced that it will follow Los Angeles County in requiring masking indoors regardless of vaccination status.

The county public health department announced that it was taking this action due to increased transmission of COVID-19, with a seven-fold jump in new cases since the state’s June 15 “reopening” and removal of certain restrictions. This order follows the press release Los Angeles County issued on June 28 in response to the rise of the Delta variant that strongly recommended, but did not require, wearing a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Other jurisdictions may follow with mask mandates as well. Employers should continue to monitor the directives in the local and state jurisdictions in which they operate. The situation remains in flux with the recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, primarily associated with the highly transmissible Delta variant and particularly in locations with relatively low vaccination rates among those eligible to be vaccinated.