FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The statewide indoor mask mandate was put back into place on Wednesday by state officials and will continue to be in effect for the next 30 days.

State officials say the goal of the mandate is to prevent to spread of COVID-19 during the holidays, especially because of the new Omicron variant.

Dr. John Zweiflier with the Fresno County Department of Public Health says with the holidays around the corner, this mandate is a preventative step to keep families and friends safe from COVID-19 this season.

“If we remember back to last year, we had a huge surge related to the holidays,” said Zweiflier. “So to take a step back, just remember, what is COVID? It is a respiratory virus that is spread through the air when we cough, sneeze, talk or sing. So what are the areas where we’re most at risk? It would be if you’re in a crowded indoor setting around others who are unmasked or unvaccinated.”

While Zweiflier and other physicians are encouraging families to take preventative measures, he says he understands the frustrations people may be feeling with the new mandate in place.

“We’ve been dealing with this for two years, as you said, there’s a lot of frustration. It’s taken a huge emotional and mental toll, so we should be gathering and being with our loved ones. We want to do that, but do that in a safe way.”

Zweiflier encourages those in the community to get vaccinated and to get their booster shots if eligible. He also encourages them to continue wearing their face masks to stay safe this holiday season.