Mask confusion: Different rules from CDC, private companies, LA County causing uncertainty

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- While the CDC is loosening mask requirements for vaccinated Americans, California is keeping its face-covering rules in place for another month.

The differing guidelines are causing some confusion, especially as major corporate retailers like Walmart, Target and Trader Joe's also update their mask policies.

Those corporate rules don't take precedence over local government regulations, officials note.

RELATED: CDC: Fully vaccinated people can ditch masks indoors - most of the time

In Los Angeles County, public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer says California's plan to keep mask rules in place until June 15 makes sense.

"This is a sensible path forward," Ferrer said. "It allows us time to get more people fully vaccinated."

There were some reports that local Trader's Joe stores, including one in South Pasadena, were promoting the national corporate policy allowing vaccinated people to take off their masks indoors, without acknowledging that Los Angeles County regulations still require masks for everyone indoors.

Ferrer said she was "frankly surprised" to hear that and noted: "Absolutely masking requirements are in place here and all across California." Health officials are going around the county to make sure local outlets of national chains are aware that local regulations have not changed.

"We'll be out and about our entire week, we actually spoke over the weekend about making sure that we're communicating clearly that the masking requirements will remain in effect in L.A. County," Ferrer said.

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Experts say if you're out for a walk away from crowds, you're probably fine without a mask.

But just being outside is not an excuse to ditch the face covering.

"When you're out in public, in crowded spaces, when you're not moving, that's a concern, right?," said Dr. Jose Mayorga, executive director for UCI Health Family Centers. "You should probably don on a mask."

Los Angeles County also continues to expand vaccination efforts, now offering Pfizer doses to kids 12 and older in accordance with new federal rules. To get vaccinated, younger teens need to show proof of age and a consent form from parents.

About 44% of county residents are fully vaccinated, with more than 9 million total doses delivered, according to Ferrer.

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