IRVINE, Calif. — Irvine has reinstituted mask mandates on city property and can fine or charge violators with a misdemeanor.
The city announced the new rules in a press release Friday, with the order effective by 5 p.m.
The order covers city employees and requires them to wear masks and either get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 tests.
The order is a result of surging delta variant cases numbers, and the more transmissible strain of the coronavirus, the city said. Health officials have found that it spread more easily and can also impact young, healthy people.
Orange County reopened for business on June 15, allowing restaurants and movie theaters to bring people back inside. Since then, the delta variant has appeared with greater frequency, spreading rapidly, chiefly among non-vaccinated people. While people who have been inoculated have contracted the new strain, health officials say the effects aren't nearly as severe.
Irvine isn't taking any chances. While many businesses and government buildings like libraries have allowed vaccinated people to go unmasked, Irvine will require everyone to cover up again.
The directive grants the city the option to fine violators up to $1,000.
"I am grateful to our City staff for their ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19, and I want to thank the 75% of employees who have already been vaccinated," said Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan in a news release. "The additional measures we are implementing, based on recent data, will further protect the health and well-being of our employees and everyone in our community."
The order comes two weeks after Los Angeles County health officials mandated that people return to wearing masks during indoor gatherings.
Irvine's decision follows new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC suggests everyone — even vaccinated people — wear masks in areas where the risk is "substantial" or "high," its two most severe ratings.
Los Angeles and Orange counties are both scored worst on the four-tier system as "high."
The city did not say when the new mask order would be lifted.