Starting Monday, April 25, individuals who participate in in-person meetings inside City hearing rooms won't need to wear a face mask — though people are still strongly encouraged to do so.

Regardless of the growing concerns around the BA.2 Omicron subvariant and the neurological implications of long COVID — not to mention San Francisco's COVID-19 test positivity rate now sitting at over 5% — masks are coming off in more indoor public settings.  SFMTA, for example, dropped its requirement for riders to wear face coverings this past Thursday. Now, City Hall has followed suit after announcing Friday that it won't require people to wear face masks inside public hearing and commission rooms.

"Beginning on April 25, masking will no longer be required to be worn during in-person meetings in public commission or board hearing rooms in City facilities," reads a news release from the City Administrator’s Office, adding that both members of the public and employees who wish to still wear their masks are "encourage to do so."

Face masks were no longer required in City Hall and at City facilities on March 18, 2022, except for in public hearing rooms while in session. But starting this coming Monday, that rule will be lifted — even though the office noted that it's still recommended participants in IRL public hearing meetings wear them. (Yes... it's an infuriatingly frustrating, lukewarm take on this public health practice.)

Both state and local health orders continue to require indoor mask-wearing in certain high-risk facilities, such as hospitals, health care facilities, jails, and congregate living facilities, regardless of vaccination status.

The release concluded that members at the City Administrator’s Office will continue to work with City departments, as well as state and local health officials, to assess the available data regarding COVID-19 cases and transmission rates — "should local conditions change, masking requirements and other health precautions may need to be re-imposed."

As of publishing, California is averaging 3,014 new COVID-19 cases. In San Francisco, the present rolling seven-day average for newly reported coronavirus infections stands at 148 cases per day.

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Photo: Getty Images/ Gerarald1009