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Health and Medicine

California Releases More Details On June 15 Reopening Plan

Patrons wear masks as they sit on the outdoor patio of a restaurant on Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. California is among more than 20 states that require face masks to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Patrons wear masks as they sit on the outdoor patio of a restaurant on Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. California is beginning to remove rules that required face masks to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The reopening will lift mask and social distancing mandates for customers at businesses. It will also do away with capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events, though the state is not considering a vaccine passport.

State leaders say California’s economy is set to reopen on June 15 as vaccination rates continue to increase and hospitalizations remain low, and provided more details Friday on what that will look like.

“What we wanted to do with June 15 was give people enough time to get vaccinated,” said California Health and Human Services secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly on a call with reporters Friday. He said the state is keeping an eye on the data, but added “we’re confident in that day now.”

The reopening will lift mask and social distancing mandates for customers at businesses. It will also do away with capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events. Some large indoor events will still require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. The state says it is not considering implementation of a vaccine passport, but private venues have that option.

California officials first announced in April that the state could reopen June 15, but only if vaccine supply remained steady and COVID-19 hospitalizations stayed low.

Ghaly said COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped to a level not seen since the beginning of the pandemic. The most recent 7-day average for hospital admissions was 260 patients.

Meanwhile, vaccination rates are steadily increasing. Over half of California’s population has received at least one dose and 40% is fully vaccinated, according to the NPR vaccine tracker.

Ghaly said the state will implement on June 15 the latest mask guidelines released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those guidelines do not require masks for vaccinated people in most indoor and outdoor settings. The state will also align its travel guidance with the CDC on June 15, which requires masks on public transportation and airplanes.

For so-called “mega outdoor events,” which Ghaly described as having 10,000 or more attendees, the state is recommending vendors have a way to verify vaccination status or a negative test. Attendees without either could still enter wearing a mask.

For indoor events of 5,000 or more, the state is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test. Attendees without either would not be allowed in, even with a mask.

Employers will continue to be subject to Cal/OSHA workplace standards, which still require masks and distancing. The agency postponed a vote Thursday on whether to revise coronavirus safety rules for employees.

Ghaly said the state is expecting some increase in virus transmission after the economy reopens, but believes it won’t be widespread.

“It’s not that we won’t see COVID cases moving forward; it’s not that we won’t see even some isolated outbreaks,” Ghaly said. “But we do have the tools to manage that.”

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