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SF Officially Adopts New Relaxed Outdoor Mask Rules

Unless you’re attending a big event, outdoor masks no longer required in most cases.
By - posted 5/3/2021 No Comment

The California Department of Public Health today announced new outdoor masking rules which the city of San Francisco has adopted according to a press release issued by the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM).

These changes mean fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people can forgo mask-wearing while engaging in outdoor activities such as walking, running, hiking or biking alone or with members of the same household.

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And, according to the SFDEM press release, you will no longer need to pull up your mask when simply passing others when walking or running outside.

“you will no longer need to pull up your mask when simply passing others by on a sidewalk or trail as the transient passing of people is not a risk of transmission” – San Francisco’s Acting Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip

Though the Mercury News reports a possible discrepancy between the California and CDC guidelines. The Mercury News’ interpretation of the California order is that mask wearing by those unvaccinated is required when passing people by because in that moment social distancing is not possible. The SFDEM press release specifically addresses this situation making a distinction between passing someone by and stopping for a prolonged time, “if you are not fully vaccinated and stop to have a prolonged conversation, or you are walking on a crowded sidewalk passing many people, you will want to put that mask on.”

Typically the city of San Francisco has always been at least as restrictive as the state orders. At this time it’s not known if the Mercury News is misinterpreting California’s meaning of “any time physical distancing cannot be maintained,” or if San Francisco is attempting to be less restrictive than the state.

The Basics: California’s Updated Outdoor Mask Rules

  • For fully vaccinated persons, face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.
  • For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained, including when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.
  • In indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status

For people who are not fully vaccinated, a face covering must be worn if physical distancing cannot be maintained. For example, if you are not fully vaccinated and stop to have a prolonged conversation, or you are walking on a crowded sidewalk passing many people, you will want to put that mask on.

Attending a large outdoors event? You’ll still need to wear a mask
For anyone who is fully vaccinated, a face covering will no longer be required outdoors unless a more specific rule requires it, such as at a large sporting event.

And for now, everyone, including fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people, must still wear a face covering at large events or crowded settings outdoors. In San Francisco, this means any event or location with 300 or more people.

The federal masking requirements for public transportation will still apply, so you will need to wear your mask while waiting for and while riding public transit

This updated guidance still mandates face masks in indoor settings, with few exceptions.

See the full details at cdph.ca.gov



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