Julio Montoya (right) checks his phone while waiting for the bus outside the City Hall in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 6, 2021. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

Contra Costa Health Services announced Tuesday a new health order requiring masks in all public indoor places without exceptions for certain indoor settings.

With the highly contagious COVID-19 omicron variant circulating through the county, the county decided to no longer make exceptions for fully vaccinated public speakers and performers, and fully vaccinated groups of 100 or fewer people that were allowed to remove their face coverings under controlled conditions.

The new order, which goes into effect Wednesday, requires all people in Contra Costa, regardless of vaccination status, to mask in public indoor settings.

Contra Costa joins other Bay Area counties in requiring masks again in all public settings.

“The omicron variant is very contagious, and we now know that anyone, regardless of vaccination status, can spread this variant to other people,” said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, Contra Costa County’s deputy health officer. “We anticipate the case rate and hospitalization numbers to increase over the coming weeks. To reduce spread, cases and hospitalizations, we all need to wear masks anytime we are in an indoor public setting.”

Contra Costa’s first case of the omicron variant was identified Dec. 18, and case rates and hospitalizations have significantly increased since then. The average number of daily new COVID-19 cases has increased 149% over the last week, while hospitalizations increased 31 percent.

Because cases and hospitalizations involve both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people, CCHS strongly urges everyone to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses, continue to offer the most effective protection against hospitalization and death from all variants of COVID-19.

People can visit coronavirus.cchealth.org/get-vaccinated for information on health care providers, pharmacies and clinics offering COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots. No-cost vaccinations and boosters are also available through CCHS’ public clinics by calling (833) 829-2626.