Here's something you don't see every day: headlines about the authorities dialing back COVID-related restrictions, as CNBC's Carl Quintanilla pointed out in a tweet.
Most notably, San Francisco is easing its indoor mask requirements beginning Oct. 15 - or next week. The decision comes after several high-profile California politicians including Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed have been caught violating their own COVID guidelines.
And it's not just San Francisco, the county, along with seven of its neighbors, will mostly remove local mandates as COVID cases continue to decline and vaccination rates rise (this second requirement may prove to be a bit of a snag), according to the San Francisco Examiner.
The eight Bay Area counties with indoor mask mandates currently in place must reach moderate levels of transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and low hospitalization rates as defined by the local health officer. In counties that haven’t reached 80% of the population vaccinated, the orders may be lifted three weeks after children ages 5-11 are granted access to vaccines.
San Francisco will partially lift its mask mandate a week from Friday, assuming local COVID cases and hospitalizations remain stable or decline over the next week. At that time, people may stop wearing masks at indoor spaces that require proof of vaccination — including gyms, offices and places that host small gatherings — as long as no children under 12 are present and other ventilation and safety measures are in place.
The criteria announced Thursday apply to Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties, which all reinstated indoor mask mandates in August amid the delta surge. Solano County did not put in place a local mandate.
"I’m excited that we’re once again at a place where we can begin easing the mask requirements, which is the direct result of the fact that we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, our cases have fallen, and our residents have done their part to keep themselves and those around them safe," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a statement.
On top of all this, relaxing SF's mask requirements might help law enforcement end the epidemic of shoplifting afflicting the City by the Bay.
Moving on from San Francisco to Europe, Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday that he believes Europe's biggest economy will be able to forego additional COVID-related restrictions during the fall and winter since the country's vaccination rate is actually higher than authorities had previously believed.
According to Reuters, Spahn said that a study by Germany's RKI had found that the number of people vaccinated against COVID was 5% higher than the government had believed. This, according to Spahn, means the existing rules requiring people to show evidence of showing a negative test or having been vaccinated or recovered on entering an indoor space or event should be enough.
"As things stand, this vaccination rate means no further restrictions are needed," he said.
But it wasn't all good news. While the UK removed 47 countries from its "red list" of countries where travelers must quarantine after returning, with Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps, UK health authorities also reported more than 40K cases in a single day for the first time in a month, according to Sky News.
Still, travelers in the UK need a Day 2 test if they're fully vaccinated, and a pre-departure test if they're not, even to travel to countries on the green list.
Whether restrictions are further relaxed will likely depend on which direction case numbers break toward during the coming week.