California to Fully Reopen June 15

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

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Sixteen California counties will move into less restrictive tiers as officials look to lift all COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, gatherings, and recreational activities June 15, though a statewide mask mandate will remain in place.

Assuming continued availability of vaccines and no spikes in COVID-19 hospitalizations — particularly among people who have been vaccinated — the state on June 15 will do away with its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the four-tier, color-coded system that has guided economic reopening through a series of restrictions and capacity limits. That system has been in place for 31 weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a Tuesday news conference.

California will look more like "business as usual" this summer, so long as people continue to wear masks and remain vigilant in taking steps to protect themselves from the coronavirus, Newsom said.

Officials also announced that 16 counties will be moving to a less restrictive tier on Wednesday. A list of affected counties was not immediately available as of this writing, but the public can check to see which tier their county is in here.

"It is incumbent upon all of us not to announce 'mission accomplished' ... but to continue that vigilance that got us where we are today," he said. "We are seeing bright light at the end of the tunnel."

The announcement came as California surpassed two significant milestones: Administering more than 20 million vaccine doses, including four million in the state's most disadvantaged and hardest-hit communities, Newsom said.

More than seven in 10 Californians older than 65 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Newsom said. The same is true for four in 10 of those 16 and older.

He urged Californians to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and reminded the public that they can receive a vaccine regardless of ability to pay or immigration status.

"This is really a race, these vaccines against the variants, against the mutations," Newsom said.

California remains constrained by vaccine supply, but all residents ages 16 and older will be eligible to sign up for a vaccine appointment as of April 15, Newsom said. The state anticipates receiving a "modest, but not substantial" increase in its vaccine supply this week, he said.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the June 15 date was chosen for being two months after COVID-19 vaccines are made available to all Californians aged 16 and over. And the decision to lift all the blueprint requirements comes in response to rising vaccination numbers and continued decreases in all key pandemic-tracking metrics, such as case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalizations.

"With all of that, we are at the stage where we're ready to consider the next aspect of our pandemic response," Ghaly said. "The road to this moment hasn't been easy. We have come together as Californians to save thousands of lives. And now we look at what is beyond that Blueprint for a Safer Economy that has been guiding California's slow, public-health-minded transition and opening of our economy. ... We look to get to that end of the blueprint."

Ghaly said scrapping the blueprint — which will be done statewide, regardless of where individual counties may be ranked at the time in the tier system — "really means that everyday activities will be allowed, and businesses can open with common-sense risk-reduction measures."

"This means the end to our color-coded tiers," he said. "You can go to movies, to the beach and see family."

Ghaly stressed, however, that a statewide mask mandate will remain in place "to prevent illness and promote health."

He noted that the June 15 date could possibly be adjusted if the state begins over the next two months to experience rises in hospitalization numbers or a sudden lack of vaccine supply. He urged all residents to ensure the move occurs on time by continuing to practice infection-control measures.

"We want to emphasize that we continue to focus over these now 10 weeks from today, a period where we continue to push out vaccinations and continue to focus on those personal protective measures, those mitigating measures — wearing our masks in settings, especially indoors, when we're in crowds," Ghaly said.

The announcement comes on a day the state crossed the 20 million threshold for the number of vaccinations administered. The state also reached the 4 million mark of vaccinations in lower-income communities that have been hard hit by the pandemic. Reaching that 4 million threshold will allow multiple counties, including San Diego and Riverside, to immediately advance to the less- restrictive orange tier of the state's economic blueprint.

"We will only keep moving toward this June 15 date, not only by emphasizing vaccines, but also by emphasizing the ongoing work of Californians," Ghaly said. "This really continues to be on our shoulders to make the responsible decision to keep our masks on, to avoid crowds and other settings where we still might encounter COVID. But as we move toward that date on June 15, we look forward to this two-month period not just to keep our focus on vaccines, but to give our partners in communities, in businesses, and other sectors a chance to prepare to be ready for this post-blueprint era in California."

Nearly 3.6 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in California since the beginning of the pandemic and more than 58,000 people have died as of Monday, the most recent day for which data was available Tuesday.

Though other parts of the country are seeing surges that spurred U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky to warn the nation that she felt a sense of "impending doom," California's COVID-19 statistics have continued to improve. Seven COVID-19-related deaths statewide were reported Monday.

Category: COVID-19, California, Governor Newsom