Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) announced Friday that the county would be lifting a health order that requires patrons of some indoor businesses to provide proof of vaccination or negative test results, citing the high vaccination rate among county residents.
"We believe now is the right time to loosen a requirement that made a lot of sense last summer, when a different variant of COVID-19 was dominant and there was less community immunity," said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, acting Contra Costa County health officer. "But by no means are we back to normal. There are still many more cases of COVID-19 in our community now than there were in mid-December, so we need to continue to take precautions when we go out."
The move comes as hospitalizations have been declining county-wide, and as health officials believe that the surge of cases brought on by the omicron variant has peaked and will continue to decline.
Under the now lifted health order, which went into effect in September, businesses where patrons remove their face coverings or breathe more heavily than usual, such as restaurants and gyms, were required by the county to check patrons and workers for proof of vaccination or negative test results.
With the order lifted, businesses will still be able to choose to implement their own vaccine requirements, which CCHS encourages them to do.
As of Thursday, 80% of county residents were vaccinated against COVID, and more than 48% had received booster doses.
Despite the high rates of community immunity, CCHS still urges that everyone eligible for vaccines and booster doses to get them, especially the latter. Friday's announcement points to county data showing that those with boosters have a lower risk for contracting COVID of more than threefold, compared with those who are unvaccinated, and are approximately nine times less likely to be hospitalized as a result of the virus.
“We deeply appreciate everyone who has chosen to vaccinate. You have made yourselves, your loved ones, and the entire community safer,” Contra Costa health director Anna Roth said. “If you are eligible and you have not gotten your booster, it is really important that you get one. People who get boosted are significantly safer from serious COVID-19.”
Other health orders from the state and county, such as workplace vaccine verification for some workers, and face coverings in indoor public spaces, remain in effect. Under state guidelines, proof of vaccination or recent negative test results are still required for visits to hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as indoor events with 500 or more attendees.