Ventura County is requiring masks at all indoor public settings — regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, health officials announced Friday.
The new health officer order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday, and businesses have until Monday night to comply, according to the Ventura County Health Care Agency.
It applies to all indoor public settings, venues and gatherings, including offices, stores, restaurants, bars, theaters and government offices.
Ventura County joins neighboring Los Angeles County in mandating masks indoors as the region again sees increased coronavirus spread.
“Masking indoors must again become a normal practice by all, regardless of vaccination status, so that we can stop the trends and level of transmission we are currently seeing,” Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin said in a statement.
The mask mandate is meant to reduce community transmission amid a spike in the county’s coronavirus case rate.
“Health officials are concerned by the substantial levels of increased community transmission, especially among unvaccinated people,” the health department said in a news release.
The county health agency attributed the rising infection numbers partly to the delta coronavirus variant, which has been found to be more transmissible than other forms of the virus.
And since even fully vaccinated can spread the delta variant to others, masks are needed for added protection, officials said.
“As of today, we reached a rate of 28 cases per 100,000, a 40% increase,” Levin said. “I hope that this order will increase mask usage in Ventura County. I expect that this will have a beneficial effect on the increase in COVID-19 infections we are seeing.”
Businesses and venue operators will be responsible for implementing the new mask rules and have to require patrons to mask up regardless of whether they’re vaccinated against COVID-19, county officials said.
The mask order will be in effect until 11:59 p.m. Sept. 19, or until it is extended or rescinded, officials said.