Where are masks still required in the Bay Area? – NBC Bay Area

COVID-19 cases are once again rising in the Bay Area and counties are issuing new masking orders ahead of the holidays.

Here’s a breakdown of new orders by county.

Santa Clara County

Everyone that enters a health care facility, residents or employees, in Santa Clara County is mandated to wear a face mask.

The order was issued on March 24, 2023 and applies to everyone regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Those except include children under 2 years old, people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, people who are hearing impaired or those whom wearing a mask would create a risk to themselves or their work, the county website reads.

For more guidance, visit

San Francisco

People who work in healthcare settings and jails are required to wear a mask in San Francisco, no matter their vaccination status.

Officials also made it clear that any business, public transportation agency, or organization has the right to require a mask to enter so residents should carry masks with them.

Masks are recommended when on public transportation, when exposed to COVID, or inside a facility with large crowds.

For more guidance from San Francisco, visit

Alameda County

Like many Bay Area counties, anyone who works at, or enters, a health care facility in Alameda County must wear a face mask, county officials say.

When required by a business, government office, public transportation or any entity, residents are required to oblige.

Though not required, county officials recommend anyone 65 years old, or older, or anyone who has serious health issues to still wear masks.

Also, it’s suggested that those who aren’t up to date on their COVID vaccines or who interact with others often should also keep a mask handy.

For more guidance, go to

Contra Costa County

Contra Costa Health Services chief executive officer Anna Roth told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday that countywide hospital admissions for COVID-19 have increased since July, from 8.1 per day to 12.1. 

“So it’s going up,” Roth said. “It’s not huge. We are able to handle the increased demand for some hospital beds, but it is going up.” 

In response to the increased cases in the Bay Area — which health officials attribute to the latest mutated strain of COVID-19 — Roth said Contra Costa Health and other Bay Area health agencies are implementing new mask requirements for health care workers. 

“We are issuing the health order today around masking for high-risk facilities, health care facilities specifically,” Roth said.  “So again, masking in hospitals, masking in skilled nursing facilities, masking in high-risk facilities.”

The new masking order will not affect patients or visitors to affected health care facilities.   

Roth said the new order will not include other residential congregate settings, such as detention facilities and homeless shelters.  To find out more about COVID-19 in Contra Costa County, go to

San Mateo County

Starting Nov. 1, everyone that works at health care facilities in San Mateo County will be required to wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status.

These include hospitals, dialysis centers, long-term care facilities, and more.

The order issued on Tuesday states that the county wants to get ahead of the expected holiday surge.

There are some exemptions, but they’re very limited.

To read more about the new order, go to

Solano County

Sonoma County’s health officer issued an order Tuesday for health care workers who work directly with patients to wear face masks during an anticipated surge in the transmission of respiratory viruses this fall and winter. 

The order lasts from Nov. 1 to April 30 and covers workers in facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and other facilities where patient care is provided indoors. 

“Each year we see that higher rates of influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses that can cause severe respiratory infections occur annually between late fall and spring,” said Dr. Karen Smith, Sonoma County’s health officer. 

“Patients and residents in our health care and congregate facilities, especially young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic health conditions, are at greater risk for respiratory virus-related hospitalizations and death. Workers in direct care, health care, and congregate facilities are at risk for respiratory illness and can transmit the viruses to their clients, patients, and coworkers,” Smith said. 

The recommendation included guidance for the public to wear face masks in indoor public settings when COVID-19 or influenza transmission rates in the county are high. 

Last fall, hospitalizations for influenza in Sonoma County outpaced COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time since the pandemic began. 

Hospitalizations peaked for influenza on Dec. 1 at 69 people, four of whom were in intensive care units, according to county data. On that day, there were 43 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and two people with both. The most COVID-19 hospitalizations last fall and winter peaked on Jan. 3 of this year at 61 people. 

For comparison, there were more than 100 people hospitalized with COVID-19 during surges in January 2021 and January 2022 and practically zero hospitalizations from influenza at that time.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County doesn’t have any current masking orders, but stand by mandates at the state level.

California recommends everyone who has any COVID-19 symptoms or has been around anyone with symptoms or a positive COVID test, to wear a mask.

Officials also recommend residents keep a mask on them at all times as businesses, public transportation agencies, and hosts may still ask people who enter facilities to wear one.

For more information, visit

Marin County

Regardless of vaccination status, anyone in the following places in Marin County must wear a mask to avoid the spread of COVID-19:

  • Health care settings
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Homeless shelters
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers.

For more information, visit

Napa County

Napa County is sticking with the state of California’s mask guidance, which suggests anyone entering a health care facility or jail to wear a mask.

This guidance is for everyone, no matter their vaccination status.

For more information, visit

Tony Hicks, Thomas Hughes contributed to this report.

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