A surging new wave of COVID-19 infections has led LA County officials to announce the reinstatement of their mask mandate policy. Effective 11:59PM, July 17th, the regulation requires everyone to once again wear a mask while indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
The circumstances could prove damaging to a nightlife industry that has borne substantial economic hardship over the last year. Many of the city's clubs and venues, such as the historic Troubador, were at risk of permanent closure following the onset of COVID-19.
Fox 11 Los Angeles reports business owners expressed frustration over the potential of losing business to establishments in surrounding counties where no such mandate is currently in effect. However, that might soon change after Long Beach County subsequently announced they are following suit by reinstating similar mask-wearing measures.
Another looming concern comes from the lack of clarity as to how long the mandate will potentially last. Additionally, some fear the worst case scenario—that the mandate will preclude another prolonged lockdown period, and hospitality and service sector employees will once again be at risk of losing work.
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Unfortunately, California's rising case load is undeniably being led by infections from the highly transmissible delta variant. According to Slate, it was the driver of 71% of infections from June 27th to July 3rd. Due to the limited number of studies so far on the variant, the efficacy of existing vaccines against this version of the virus still remains unclear.