As of today, Long Beach is lifting its mask mandate on public transportation and at transit hubs like airports and bus terminals, the city announced.
The transit-related mask mandate was one of the last remaining hard-and-fast restrictions in Long Beach that was imposed during the Omicron variant surge in COVID cases.
Masking will continue to be required in health care settings, long-term care facilities, and senior-care facilities, but in almost all other areas, mask mandates are now being replaced by a set of recommendations based on guidelines laid out by the state of California and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that focus on personal risk factors such as underlying health conditions and whether you interact with immunocompromised people.
“People should be assessing their individual risk tolerance as well as the circumstances of their families,” Long Beach Health Department spokeswoman Jennifer Rice Epstein said.
Masking recommendations will now depend on where Long Beach falls in the CDC’s “Community Levels” of COVID-19, which place areas into low, medium or high tiers based on hospitalization rates, hospital bed occupancy and COVID-19 case rates.
“Since Sept. 1, Long Beach has been in the Low COVID-19 Community Level,” city officials said in a statement. Currently, the 7-day case rate is 131.1 per 100,000. The 7-day hospitalization rate is 3.4 per 100,000, and 4.2% of inpatient beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to city figures.
While Long Beach remains in the “low” tier, the city will make the following recommendations:
- People may wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by their own personal level of risk.
- People at high risk should consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor public places.
When in the medium tier:
- Everyone should consider wearing a mask in indoor public places.
- It is recommended that people at high risk wear a mask in indoor public places.
- People who have household or social contact with a person at high risk are recommended to wear a mask when indoors with that person, in order to protect people with underlying health conditions or otherwise at high risk of severe disease.
When in the high tier:
- It is recommended that everyone wear a mask in indoor public places.
- It is strongly recommended that people at high risk wear a mask in indoor public places.
- People who have household or social contact with a vulnerable person are recommended to wear a mask when inside with that person, in order to protect those who are at high risk of severe disease.
Moving into the medium or high tier will also trigger mask mandates at certain high-risk indoor settings such as correctional facilities, shelters, and cooling and heating centers, the city said.
There is not a set threshold that would trigger a broader indoor mask mandate, Epstein said.
The new rules align with the state and LA County’s masking policies.
Details about Long Beach’s Community Level will now be updated weekly on the city’s website.