Will The Face Mask Mandate Be Coming Back To Restaurants?

Los Angeles County has reinstated the mask requirement. According to Restaurant Business, everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear a face mask when in restaurants and other public areas, such as a store. SFGate writes that the mandate is in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, which has seen over 1,000 reported daily infections for 10 days straight. For context, one day saw 1,635 new cases, whereas the days following the county's reopening in June only saw 210 cases.

"The spread of the more infectious Delta variant through intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown has caused a rapid spread of COVID-19 that is resulting in a significant increase in cases and hospitalizations," Barbara Ferrer, the director of Health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement before exhorting anyone unvaccinated to receive their shot as soon as possible. "By wearing masks indoors at public places and worksites, we can get back to slowing the spread of the virus."

Talking to CBS News, however, the Sheriff's Department made it clear they would not be the ones to enforce the requirement, though they did ask for voluntary compliance. To be balanced, this is a continuation of the policy from last year where they chose to be educational instead of penalizing. Unfortunately, that means the responsibility of enforcing the government mandate will likely fall on the backs of the frontline workers without recourse to a higher authority than the fact that they have to do this.

Is a new surge coming?

Some may react to the news of a new mask mandate with flashbacks to the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

To some degree, this reaction is warranted. "I could foresee that in certain parts of the country, there could be a reintroduction of indoor mask mandates, distancing and occupancy limits," Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization's Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, predicted to CNBC on July 8. He was talking about the almost inevitable spike that the United States will face this fall. Around the world, other countries have seen surges in coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant. And just over a week later, the first reintroduction of indoor mask mandates in the United States did, in fact, occur.

However, even as Los Angeles County reintroduces mask mandates, they also assure the public that almost every case that has been recorded has occurred to an unvaccinated person. The vaccines against the coronavirus still prove effective. The Seattle Times quotes Dr. Christina Ghaly, the Health Services Director, telling the county Board of Supervisors, "We have not admitted any single person for COVID who is fully vaccinated — with either the J&J, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines." The reason given for having everyone wear masks is not that those who are vaccinated have anything to fear. Rather, it is to simplify the means with which they can enforce the unvaccinated to wear a mask.