You have likely read that due to decreasing COVID case rates, the State of California and most of the Bay Area counties (Santa Clara is the exception) plan to lift their indoor mask mandates beginning this Wednesday, February 16. Please note that for the time being, the Lab will continue to require masks indoors for everyone.
In determining our COVID controls for the Lab, we pay attention to a number of indicators: the local and national case rates; our regulatory requirements; guidance from DOE, UC, and other federal, state, county, and local agencies; and more.
In the case of our mask mandate, DOE requires that our local community, Alameda County, remain at the moderate transmission risk level for two consecutive weeks before the Lab can discontinue its indoor mask requirement. Although case rates are dropping, all of the Bay Area counties currently remain at a high transmission rate. Therefore, we have no expectation at this time that DOE’s guidance concerning our mask requirements will change in the near future.
Please note that when we do have clearance to relax our mask controls, those following Protocol B will still be required to wear a mask indoors, unless alone in a closed room, regardless of the community transmission level. Those who have not provided proof of their flu vaccination will also need to wear a mask indoors and outdoors if within six feet of another person while at a Lab site for the remainder of the flu season which usually ends in April.
A reminder that for those who hold indoor meetings on site, masks are still required for all, whether individuals are following Protocol A or Protocol B.
California state law still requires masks on public transit, including Lab shuttles, in health care settings, including the Lab’s Health Services Center, Building 26, and in schools. Even when mask requirements are lifted, those who would like to continue to wear masks will be encouraged to do so. Our experience with masks over the past two years shows they do play a significant role in reducing illness.
Thank you for your continued commitment to keeping our work environment at Berkeley Lab as safe as possible.