Mask mandates ease as Covid numbers decline

Covid’s first targeted European country, Italy, is now loosening up their restrictions on masking protocols and mandates. Recently, in early January, cases soared as the Omnicron variant of the virus made it to Italy. Recorded cases got up to the high of 1,269,976. After the surge calmed, Italian officials began to lessen the restrictions imposed on mask wearing. The nationwide mandate of wearing a mask ended February 11, 2022. Although, it is still mandatory to wear a mask indoors and when using public transportation. Those who do not comply with the law may be fined up to $450. Italy still allows specific regions and individual cities to enforce their own, individual mask mandates as they see necessary.  Places with large public crowds such as cinemas, theaters, concerts and sporting events are still enforcing mask wearing. They also have not yet lifted restrictions on eating or drinking at these events. 

Across the United States, states are also beginning to loosen mask mandates. Chicago and Illinois have begun to lift their restrictions, starting at the end of February. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a White House briefing that the government is contemplating a change to its mask guidance in the coming weeks. 

 According to the New York Times, Los Angeles County removed the mask mandate for indoor public places. For those who are vaccinated, the wearing of masks will be optional for Angelenos. Home to just over 10 million people, Los Angeles County has recently seen a decrease in coronavirus cases after the explosion of the omicron variant over the holidays. County officials hope to put this into effect February 24, 2022. 

In the Hart District, Superintendent Mike Kuhlman sent families and staff an email regarding the mask mandates at our school district. 

“[T]he Governor’s Office and the California Department of Public Health have announced that the statewide indoor masking requirement will sunset at the conclusion of the school day on March 11, 2022,” said the email. 

Starting March 12, 2022 the State of California will no longer require indoor masking for both students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. The email continued by noting that, although the mask mandate ends March 11, this decision may be revisited, and protections have a chance of being reinstituted if an additional surge, or even a new variant, of the coronavirus is encountered.