Unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks in public settings as of March 1, according to updated health guidance from Gov. Gavin Newsom, less than a month after the state removed the mask requirement for vaccinated people.

This announcement came after a series of efforts to reduce pandemic restrictions. With declining cases and hospitalizations across the state, Newsom lifted the mask mandate on Feb. 15 for those who are vaccinated.

As of Feb. 16, San Luis Obispo County no longer requires masks indoors. According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, the positivity rate for the virus has fallen from 23.5% to 9.5% since the omicron variant’s peak on Jan. 17. This percentage measures the rate of positive tests over the last seven days for the county.

The county is 73.6% partially vaccinated, meaning county residents five years or older have received at least one dose of the Pfizer of Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The County also reported 51.2% of the population is boosted, meaning they received a third dose of the Pfizer of Moderna vaccine.

Additionally, California is no longer requiring schools to enforce the mask mandate starting March 12. Instead, the state highly recommends students and faculty wear masks. 

On Feb. 18, Cal Poly announced the mask mandate is lifted for fully vaccinated students for all areas of campus other than classrooms, labs, healthcare settings and Mustang Shuttle vehicles. 

“Given our very high vaccination and booster rate, combined with the very low rate of coronavirus illness on campus, our consultants believe that it is now safe and prudent to make this change, following the lead of both state and local public health agencies,” Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said in a campus-wide email.

The school announced in a Feb. 24 email that it will be dropping mask mandates for people with up-to-date vaccinations, including the booster, for spring quarter, including classrooms and labs.

“Although the science suggests that it would be safe to lift the mandate in classrooms sooner, we recognize that changing the protocol mid-quarter may cause unnecessary disruption and confusion for some instructors and students,” Armstrong said in another email to the school.

English freshman Mia Licosti has sent multiple emails to the school on her opinion of the mask mandate.

“Enforcing mask wearing at this point is anti-science and against the freedom we have in the United States,” Licosti told the President’s Office. “I really hope Cal Poly reconsiders this mask mandate as the students here are yearning to communicate and empathize how we once did … Let us live a normal life inside the classroom if we are allowed to outside of the classroom.”

Mechanical engineering junior Isabella Sorensen did not realize masks were no longer required in any campus spaces for the spring quarter. She was taking a leave of absence for the fall and winter quarters for a co-op and was not receiving emails from the school. 

“That’s gonna be so wild,” Sorensen said. “I think it will be nice to see people’s faces, but I can’t believe this is happening.” 

Business administration junior Harneet Kaur said she believes students should continue wearing masks indoors due to safety concerns. 

“I frequently have to drive up to the Bay Area to see and take care of my grandparents,” Kaur said. “Due to their age and health, I am constantly worried about bringing COVID-19 or other sickness to them when I visit. I still take necessary precautions such as staying COVID-19 conscious and getting tested frequently, but I would feel a lot safer if everyone wore masks in indoor settings.”

Even though state policies have changed, this does not affect federal policies. State residents are still required to wear masks in high transmission settings, like public transit, emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.

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