211214 California
Black Friday shoppers wearing face masks wait in line to enter a store at the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, Calif., Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Sactamento, California: California will impose a statewide mask mandate in all indoor public spaces as COVID-19 case rates soar, state Secretary of Health and Human Services Mark Ghaly said on Monday, as state officials take precautions against a surge in cases due to the Omicron variant of the virus.

The mandate, which will take effect on Wednesday and last one month, is one of several measures the state is taking to slow a wave of infections that is already straining hospitals in areas where vaccination rates are low.

The rate of COVID-19 infections in California has jumped 47% since Thanksgiving, to more than 14 cases per 100,000 people, Ghaly said in a call with reporters.

In addition to requiring masks, the state is tightening its testing requirements for unvaccinated people who want to attend large events such as music festivals and professional ball games where more than 1,000 people are in attendance.

When the tighter requirements are in effect, people wishing to enter such venues must either prove they are vaccinated or show they tested negative to a COVID-19 antigen test within one day of the event, or a PCR test within two days.

The state is also recommending that all travelers to the state be tested for COVID-19 within three to five days of arrival, Ghaly said.