5 Things To Know About California's Reopening Day

Monday, June 14, 2021

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(Patch) 

Almost a year and a half after coronavirus restrictions befell residents in the Golden State, Californians will finally be able to return to "business as usual" as of June 15 — for the most part anyway.

As the state barrels toward this long-awaited milestone, several mandates and a complex color-coded tiering system will cease. But Californians should know that the state's grand reopening isn't perfectly cut and dry. Most restrictions are lifted, but there are a few exceptions.

So don't make celebratory plans to burn facemasks in a pile just yet as some coronavirus protections — and the virus itself — are undoubtedly here to stay for a while longer.

"I want to thank 40 million Californians strong for what you've endured, the stress and anxiety, the fear many people had," Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a news briefing on June 11. "It's been a very challenging time for everybody and I'm very encouraged that we are where we are."

Here's what you need to know about the June 15 reopening:

1. The state lifts restrictions on businesses

California will move "Beyond the Blueprint" on Tuesday, allowing businesses to ditch the social distancing requirements and capacity limits that establishments have been forced to follow for more than 15 months.

Newsom signed the order to lift California's stay-at-home order and its various amendments, taking effect June 15. There will be no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements for restaurants, movie theaters, cafes, retail spaces, grocery stores, and more.

While the state's individual 58 counties will be able to set stricter rules, no counties have announced plans to do so. Individual businesses will also be able to set their own restrictions.

2. Californians should still keep a mask on hand

While the state drops its mask mandate on June 15, those rules will be replaced with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This means that those who are fully vaccinated will be able to go maskless in most public spaces, except indoor events with more than 5,000 guests or outdoor events with 10,000 guests or more.

Also, don't be surprised if there are businesses still requiring masks past the June 15 date. Bars, movie theaters, gyms, museums — really any sort of privately owned establishment will be allowed to require masks and/or ask for proof of vaccination.

What's more, anyone who is unvaccinated will technically be required to wear a mask indoors but there won't be any kind of universal state system to enforce this rule, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's health secretary, confirmed on June 9.

"We are not requiring businesses to, for example, have somebody at the door checking for vaccine status as a way to comply with this," Ghaly said.

3. Masks will likely be required for some in the workplace

Some of California's workers may have to hold onto masks just a little longer even as vaccination rates soar and the state's positivity rate lingers below 1 percent.

While the state can lift most masking requirements for public spaces, it will be up to Cal/OSHA to set rules for the workplace. For those who work indoors among others, masking requirements — at least for those who are unvaccinated — may be around a while longer.

California's Occupational Safety and Health Board will vote on new workplace rules on June 17.

Late last month, Cal/OSHA proposed that employers keep mask requirements in some settings until early next year, a departure from Gov. Gavin Newsom's guidance. In the proposal, regulators said that masks would remain a requirement for indoor workers if unvaccinated employees were present or if vaccination status was ambiguous.

But after some pushback from employers, the agency revised its proposal to allow vaccinated workers to forgo masks, even in the presence of those who are unvaccinated.

The new proposal would not go into effect until June 28. Until then, all workers must wear face coverings indoors.

4. Some emergency orders will linger

Newsom said that he will begin the process of removing several emergency actions that he enacted through executive order.

Dozens of emergency executive orders will remain in place for a while, but for the most part, they won't impact businesses and workplaces reopening.

Some of Newsom's executive orders have done the following:

  • Allowed local governments to hold public hearings virtually, temporarily casting aside state law that says meetings have to be physically open to communities.
  • Banned utility companies from cutting off services to struggling Californians unable to pay delinquent bills.
  • Granted California manufacturers a licensing waiver to produce goods needed for the pandemic.
  • Allowed pharmacy workers to administer vaccines.

Some of these orders start expiring in July while others remain in place for an undetermined amount of time.

California will also remain in a "state of emergency" for a while longer, Newsom said. The order has allowed Newsom to issue nearly 60 executive orders and expedite federal funding for pandemic response. Only the governor or the state Legislature can rescind it.

"Responding to and recovering from disasters is not a linear thing," Alex Pal, chief counsel for the state's Office of Emergency Services, told the Los Angeles Times. "There are often ongoing longer-term impacts requiring the state of emergency to remain in place."

5. Masks will still need to be worn on public transit and at K-12 schools

California's mask mandate will be lifted in many public spaces, but residents will still need to wear one on BART in the Bay Area, for example. Everywhere in California and the nation, masks will be required on airplanes, trains and buses, according to CDC guidance.

"Traveling on public transportation increases a person's risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by bringing people in close contact with others, often for prolonged periods, and exposing them to frequently touched surfaces," the CDC said on Thursday.

The federal agency amended its original Jan. 29 order to allow fully vaccinated people to forgo a mask in outdoor areas while waiting for transportation but most indoor spaces will still have mask requirements.

Indoor areas of airports, train depots, seaports and bus ferry terminals in California will still enforce face coverings.

Also, California's mask mandate will not be lifted on June 15 at K-12 schools when students and staff are together indoors, Ghaly confirmed.

Category: COVID-19, California, Governor Newsom