Health authorities in California have said that the most populous US state will not “implement the CDC guidelines that allow fully vaccinated people to go without a mask in most situations” before June 15.

Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared that it was safe for fully vaccinated people to skip face coverings and social distancing in most situations, following which many states have lifted their mask mandates, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly on Monday stressed that the ‘Golden State’ would keep the existing guidance until June 15, meaning “in indoor settings, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status”.

California’s rules permit people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus not to wear a mask outdoors unless they are attending crowded gatherings, but require persons to wear masks indoors unless they are meeting with other inoculated people.

“There’s certain areas where masking will and should continue. We’ll be watching that list closely with the CDC, but for now we don’t have any additions beyond what we’ve seen with the CDC’s guidelines,” Ghaly said.

California’s decision came amid confusing and seemingly contradictory messages from President Joe Biden, the CDC, Governors, state officials and local officials, who have been under pressure to ease mask restrictions.

Since some supermarket chains including Trader Joe’s, Costco and Walmart have dropped the mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers, Ghaly said on Monday these businesses need to align with the current state rules.

One of the worst hit states in the US, California has so far reported 3,665,904 confirmed coronavirus cases and 61,510 deaths.

The state has vaccinated 34,536,581 residents in total.

–IANS

ksk/