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Restaurants May Have to Bring Back This Safety Rule Due to Delta Variant, Experts Say

A county in California just reinstated the face-mask mandate, regardless of customers' vaccine status.

As the rate of COVID-19 infections caused by the delta variant continues to grow, speculations are swirling about whether residents in areas with high infection numbers can soon expect to see reimposed pandemic-era mandates.

Last week, face masks became mandatory again inside restaurants and other public places in Los Angeles County, which has been reporting a spike in new cases at the rate not seen since March. While the law enforcement officials said they plan on taking an educational instead of a punitive approach to violators, those who don't adhere could technically be cited or fined for not covering their face, regardless of their vaccination status.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says Here's When to Wear Your Mask

The city of Berkeley and seven other counties in California soon followed with a recommendation to citizens to resume wearing masks indoors.

According to Restaurant Business, the moves have sparked predictions that other areas with spiking cases may soon follow and reimpose mask mandates. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said masks are one of the measures likely to make a comeback.

"What we're seeing in L.A. County is concerning," Murthy said on the ABC Sunday news program This Week. "For communities where they're seeing a significant increase in cases—L.A. County is one of those counties—I think they're looking to take mitigation measures to reduce that spread. And masks are one of them."

Former surgeon general Jerome Adams made a similar statement. "We need to prepare the public for what could be, again, a return to some of these mitigation measures," he told Indianapolis TV station WISH-TV on Sunday, referring to growing cases in the Midwest.

This is in stark contrast to the recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in May, which stated that vaccinated Americans can forgo masks in many situations, even indoors.

Director of National Institutes of Health Francis S. Collins told the Washington Post this week that the CDC recommendations were issued before the emergence of the highly contagious delta variant, and before the level of vaccine hesitancy in some parts of the country became apparent.

While the restaurant industry just started regaining its post-pandemic footing and welcomed the end of mask mandates, reinstating them may help prevent more drastic measures later in the year.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Executive Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura