County of San Mateo follows guidance from California Department of Public Health on face coverings, gatherings and travel
May 19, 2021
  • county of san mateo joint information center

    ► Vaccination is the key to continued loosening of restrictions.

    ► Fully vaccinated persons need not wear masks outside except in crowds.

    ► Unvaccinated persons need not wear masks outside except when physical distance can’t be maintained.

    ► Masks are required indoors for everyone (except in homes).

    ►The Yellow Tier allows most businesses to operate at 50% of capacity indoors (or 50 people).

    ► Travel is still discouraged except for those who are fully vaccinated.

    Redwood City – While people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must wear face coverings in businesses and crowded spaces both indoors and outdoors, they can ditch the mask in private settings where they’re around other fully vaccinated people or when they’re outside in uncrowded areas.

    A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the vaccine series, which is a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

    The County of San Mateo today provides the following information to help residents make decisions and follow health and safety guidelines.

    County Health follows recent guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health for face coverings, gatherings and travel until further notice.

    Face Coverings
    The County of San Mateo follows the May 3, 2021, “Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings” from the California Department of Public Health.
    1. For fully vaccinated persons, face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events or other similar settings.
    2. For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained, including when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events or other similar settings.
    3. In indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status, except under certain exemptions.*
    4. As defined in the CDPH Fully Vaccinated Persons Guidance, fully vaccinated people can:**
    • Visit, without wearing masks or physical distancing, with other fully vaccinated people in indoor or outdoor settings; and
    • Visit, without wearing masks or physical distancing, with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease in indoor and outdoor settings
    The County of San Mateo follows the April 15, 2021, “Updated Guidance for Gatherings” from the California Department of Public Health.

    Fully Vaccinated People 

    Fully vaccinated people should wear masks, maintain physical distance and avoid crowds indoors, especially when mixing with others who are not fully vaccinated.

    Refer to CDPH Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Persons for definitions and other recommendations, including what to do when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

    Guidance for Yellow Tier

    The County of San Mateo has advanced to the least-restrictive yellow tier on the state’s color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

    Under yellow tier the following applies for all gatherings:

    • Outdoor gatherings: Maximum of 100 people
    • Indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged: Maximum 50% capacity where capacity limits exist or 50 people, whichever is fewer.


    Keep the households that you interact with stable over time. By spending time with the same people, risk of transmission is reduced. Participating in multiple gatherings with different households or groups is strongly discouraged.

    Amusement Parks and Theme Parks

    These are permitted to operate with capacity limits and other guidance in counties under the yellow tier. Guidance is available here.


    The County of San Mateo follows the April 2, 2021, “Travel Advisory” from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

    The CDPH and CDC recommend delaying travel until persons are fully vaccinated, because travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. The State has issued the following recommendations:

    are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 and can travel safely within the United States and California

    should follow CDC travel guidance and are not required to test or quarantine before or after travel unless they have symptoms for COVID-19 disease.


    Non-Essential Travel of unvaccinated persons (tourism and recreation):

    1. Except in connection with essential travel, Californians should avoid non-essential travel outside of California, to other states or countries unless they are fully vaccinated. Avoiding travel reduces the risk of virus transmission, including by reducing the risk that new sources of infection and, potentially, new virus strains will be introduced to California.
    2. Non-essential travelers from other states or countries are strongly discouraged from entering California and should adhere to the quarantine procedures set forth below.
    3. Non-essential travelers who are not fully vaccinated should get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before travel and get tested 3-5 days upon arrival to their destination. They should stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even if their test is negative.
    4. Non-essential travelers who are not fully vaccinated and don’t get tested should stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.


    *Note: Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.

    **Exemptions: The following specific settings are exempt from face covering requirements:

    • Persons in a car alone or solely with members of their own household,
    • Persons who are working alone in a closed office or room,
    • Persons who are obtaining a medical or cosmetic service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service,
    • Workers who wear respiratory protection, or
    • Persons who are specifically exempted from wearing face coverings by other CDPH guidance.

    The following individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings at all times:

    • Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
    • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.*
    • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
    • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
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