California Ending Most Covid Restrictions: “We’ll Be Opening Up On June 15,” Announces Newsom

“We’ll be opening up on June 15, this economy…business as usual,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday. “We are announcing now that on June 15 we will be getting rid of the colored [reopening] tiers.” Earlier in the day, the state’s top health official spoke in detail about the planned reopening.

“The Blueprint as it’s devised now will no longer be in effect as of June 15,” said California Director of Health Services Dr. Mark Ghaly on Tuesday. He was referring to the state’s tiered reopening plan, which has kept some businesses closed and allowed others to slowly reopen. Ghaly emphasized that the date will hold so long as vaccines are available and so long as the state sees a low level of disease.

Newsom noted that, as cases rise across the country, California’s numbers are declining and the state has “the lowest case rates, positivity rates in America.” The governor also noted the state has passed 20 million vaccine doses delivered, more than all but five countries worldwide. Tuesday’s announcement is based on the assumption that vaccine supplies continue to increase and Californians will continue to get them in increasing numbers.

“This is really a race: These vaccines against the variants,” said Newsom.

If the progress continues, capacity restrictions on movie theaters, concert venues and (assumingely) theme parks will be eliminated. The state’s mask mandate, however, will remain.

“We still see masking as a key protective feature,” said Ghaly, noting that there is “no timeline for ending the mask requirement.”

“It’s the most powerful non-pharmaceutical intervention we can have,” affirmed Newsom.

In a sense, masks and vaccinations will be replacing the specific sector limitations and become the entire scope of preventative measures imposed by the state. “We are going to move beyond sector-by-sector capacity limits,” observed Ghaly, “and [transition to] making sure that as many Californians as possible get vaccinated and mask wearing.”

A press release from the governor’s office later stated about the June 15 shift, “All sectors listed in the current Blueprint for a Safer Economy grid may return to usual operations in compliance with Cal/OSHA requirements and with common-sense public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and with vaccinations encouraged. Large-scale indoor events, such as conventions, will be allowed to occur with testing or vaccination verification requirements.”

Asked specifically about events with large crowds, Ghaly said of concerts, “Yes, we feel comfortable at letting those limits go to full capacity.” But not so for conventions and festivals like Coachella.

Full capacity at convention centers won’t be recognized without vaccination or testing “until October 1,” according to Ghaly. “Additionally, large multi-day events, for example, Coachella, we don’t yet have the path for those to occur.” Ghaly said restrictions on those events will be lifted “likely well after June 15…We’re still working with our partners.”

Ghaly said the June 15 date was chosen because it’s “exactly eight weeks after we make all Californians eligible for the vaccine [on April 15].” He also announced that the entire state would move into the new status as a whole, abandoning the county-by-county approach that has characterized the state’s reopening Blueprint.

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