California has just been handed down the anti-Christmas gift of being forced to once again wear masks – indoors. In what was apparently a surprise move, California state officials announced the state is instituting a universal indoor mask mandate.

The mandate will go into effect Wednesday, December 15, and run through January 15, 2022. “we will require universal masking in indoor settings statewide” said state director of health and human services Dr. Mark Ghaly.

The order covers the remaining roughly 50% of Californians who are not already under such a mandate. “We know people are tired and hungry for normalcy. Frankly, I am too” said Ghaly. “That said, this is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked. We are proactively putting this tool of universal indoor masking in public settings in place to ensure we get through a time of joy and hope without a darker cloud of concern and despair” added Ghaly.

Before the new mandate was handed down, many counties followed the current state guidelines which included masks be worn indoors at public transit facilities such as “airports, healthcare settings, adult and senior care facilities, schools, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers” reports DEADLINE.

Ghaly told reporters on a conference call that the state has seen a 47% rise in case rates since Thanksgiving, having risen from 9.6 per 100,00 cases to 14 per 100,000. He also said patient levels at local hospitals are “significantly above their baseline for this time of year.”

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“The new order extends the requirement in those counties to movie theaters, retail stores, restaurants, family entertainment centers and government offices that serve the public.” The state also required mask-wearing for unvaccinated people at indoor public facilities, but now masks will be mandatory regardless of vaccination status.

“We know that we’re entering into a pretty hard time, that we’re starting to see some of these numbers come up pretty quickly in some communities…[Masking] is the common sense thing to do,” said Ghaly.

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