All Bay Area counties to lift indoor mask mandate except Santa Clara County

Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer, speaks at a news conference on Jan. 31. AP photo.

All but one of the Bay Area’s 11 counties will lift their indoor mask mandates next week, aligning them with the state’s plans to lift its mask requirements.

The one exception is Santa Clara County.

That means masks will continue to be required in Palo Alto, but on the north side of San Francisquito Creek in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, no masks are necessary.

Masks will still be required in all counties indoors for unvaccinated people ages 2 and up, as well as in health care facilities, homeless shelters and on public transit.

Masks are also required in K-12 schools, but state officials have indicated they are reconsidering school masking requirements and could make changes in the coming weeks.

State public health officials said Monday that the statewide mask mandate, which has been in effect since Dec. 15, would expire as the state’s Covid-19 case and hospitalization numbers have plummeted from the surge of the mild Omicron variant.

Officials in the 10 counties argued that Covid’s spread has also waned significantly across the region and that ending the mask mandate on Feb. 16 is part of a shift toward a “new normal” of living with the virus rather than attempting to snuff out its spread completely.

But in Santa Clara County, Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said that arguing lifting local indoor mask requirements would present an unnecessary risk to residents who are vulnerable to the virus.

She said she expects to lift most indoor mask requirements for vaccinated residents “in a matter of weeks,” once the county’s seven-day average of new cases per day falls below 500 for at least one week.

Cody said the mask requirement will only be lifted if she deems hospitalizations in the county to be “low and stable.”

“Universal indoor masking is critical to protect our community, especially community members who are older or immunocompromised,” Cody said in a statement. “Continuing to mask indoors should also allow our case rates to continue to drop quickly.”

As of Tuesday, the county was confirming an average of 1,922 new cases per day over the prior seven days.

Nearly all of those cases, however, are due to the Omicron variant, which is generally mild or non-symptomatic.

Indoor mask mandates have been in place for much of the Bay Area since August. The mandates were prompted by the highly contagious Delta variant, which was on the rise at that time. Masking rules remained in place across most of the region as the Delta surge faded and the winter surge of cases tied to the omicron variant began.

Masks are not required outdoors or when people are driving alone in their car.


  1. Where is the fairness… Our governor, San Franciscos as well as LAs mayors not wearing masks at the game… Holding the breath for taking pictures as LA mayor said, really a good joke… Freedom for every citizens, now!

  2. Makes no difference to those of us who have always defied mask and other mandates, pulled our kids out of abusive schools (public and private) and decided to homeschool them, and generally lived like free citizens since the beginning of lockdowns. Others should follow suit.

    In a twisted way, I kind of want the blue coastal states to continue with lockdowns, masks, and other tyrannical measures, all of which point toward a massive wave against Dems…perhaps a once in a 100 years smackdown. It may be so bad that it will be a decade or more before the Dems recover, if they do.

  3. When i think of Dr Cody i remember that news conference where she warned people not to touch the button on a crosswalk light because we might get Covid!

    • Yeah, and people stopped touching buttons and still, to this day, use their shoes (disgusting – think of the feces those shoes have stepped on), elbows or knuckles instead. I used to go out of my way to press the buttons several times with my bare fingers, especially when the person standing by the light near me couldn’t do it, just to send a message that it’s safe to do so.

      Which raises a larger point. If adults are so easily malleable – turning into crazed germaphobes and neurotics overnight, including crossing the street or putting on a mask outdoors at the sight of another human being – all over an airborne virus that is transmitted by aerosols that no mask can block (as long as you can still breathe through it), what long-term effects is all the fear-mongering hysteria having on the children?

  4. That woman needs to be fired. So glad I moved from the Bay Area to a place where common sense and personal responsibility is valued more. For as smart Silicon Valley thinks it is — its residents allowed themselves to be herded around like a bunch of dumb sheep by people like her.

    • The stupidest smart people is how I would describe them. On being sheep, that’s preferable to these folks than somebody calling them a Republican or worst of all, a Trump supporter.

  5. Behind all the noise about mask mandates and mask less mayors we have a 51% increase in suicide among young girls. That is Sara Cody’s true legacy.

  6. She’s gotta go folks…. she is not in charge of anything…she is a media pawn..she has not authority to keep masks in place…she is way overstepping here.

    • Plus, if she is so worried about other people, then they can wear the mask…nobody is stopping them…but you can’t keep pushing your crap on everyone….its time to stop.

  7. When will these health directors read the scientific literature and realize that masks are not effective and are actually harmful to children? Florida compared rates of infections among schools requiring masks and schools where not required and found no difference. Dr. Kody needs to study the facts and not continue to abuse her powers to the detriment of SC County residents.

  8. You people that are complaining about mask mandates are quite possibly the biggest bunch of snowflakes. Its a thin mask not an iron lung. Get over yourselves and think of others first.

    • Steve, you are aware that the Covid-19 molecule is smaller than the holes in a cloth or paper mask, right?

      Now that the indoor masking rule has expired in most places, will you still be wearing your masks inside?

      Do you wear a mask inside your home?

      How about when driving?

      And if you get any exercise, do you wear a mask then?

      You can’t be too safe, can you my little snowflake?

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