On June 15, California plans to "fully reopen" its economy. What exactly does that mean? We break down everything you need to know.
What will change starting June 15?
First off, the state is ditching the color-coded reopening system. All counties, regardless of how high or low coronavirus transmission is, will be allowed to reopen all at the same time.
In short, pretty much everything will be allowed to go back to normal. There won't be any required capacity limits, no more physical distancing, and much looser mask mandates.
All those lifted restrictions are at the state level. Counties, cities and local businesses still have the right to set their own capacity limits or other rules, as they see fit.
What about large events like sports games and big concerts -- what restrictions are in place there?
These sort of "mega events" -- as the state is calling them -- are the only area with some COVID-19 restrictions still in place after June 15.
- At outdoor live events with more than 10,000 people, California will recommend venues have a verification of vaccination/negative test in place. Those who aren't vaccinated or who don't show a negative test result can still enter if they wear a mask. This is a recommendation from the state, not a requirement.
- Indoor venues with 5,000 or more people are required to implement a similar verification. However, at these indoor events, non-vaccinated people who don't show a negative COVID-19 test result can't enter, the state says. This is a requirement, not a recommendation.
Oracle Park has announced it will no longer be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test starting June 25. It will also be discontinuing the use of a "fully vaccinated" section of seats, but will offer some tickets in a socially distanced section.
These new state guidelines are going to be in place for conferences, conventions, concerts, sporting events and the like until Oct. 1. The California Department of Public Health says it will re-evaluate the situation on Sept. 1 and decide if an extension is necessary.
When will I still have to wear a mask?
Starting June 15, California is updating its mask mandate to be different for vaccinated people and unvaccinated people.
Fully vaccinated people will be allowed to do pretty much everything they were doing before the pandemic without needing to wear a mask. That includes grocery shopping, going to the gym, drinking at a bar, seeing a movie or going to church.
There are just a few places where vaccinated people will still need to wear masks, including hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, during travel (including air travel and mass transit) and while indoors at K-12 schools.
If you're not vaccinated, you'll still be required to wear a mask in all indoor public settings. How will businesses be able to tell the difference? That's trickier. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said businesses have three options:
- Allow individuals to "self attest" they've been vaccinated
- Implement a vaccine verification system
- Require everyone to wear a mask
If a business has information posted visibly about the new guidelines (that unvaccinated people still need to wear masks) and someone walks into a business without a mask on, that should be interpreted as someone self attesting they are vaccinated, Ghaly said.
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect changes to the state's mask policy on June 9. For more details on the mask mandate, click here.
Will there be travel restrictions in place?
California recommends people delay non-essential travel until they are fully vaccinated, but no travel restrictions will be in effect. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required to enter the U.S. and your destination may still require proof of vaccination and/or a negative test result.
Will there be stricter rules in the Bay Area?
Health officers in the San Francisco Bay Area, who have at times played it even safer than the state when it comes to reopening, have indicated they'll be following California's lead this time. We are expecting the nine Bay Area counties to adopt the same rules (and lack thereof) outlined by the state above.
"Let me tell you, I'm so excited to see all of those colors go away," said Mayor London Breed, referring to the end of the county reopening tiers.
What will trigger another COVID-19 shutdown?
That hasn't been announced yet. As vaccination rates continue to climb steadily, California has seen declining COVID-19 cases for six months, even as more businesses and sectors of the economy have been allowed to reopen.
When announcing the details of the June 15 reopening, Ghaly was asked about what might trigger the state to potentially lock back down. He said the state would be keeping a close eye on case numbers and COVID-19 variants, but didn't get into the specifics of what a worst case scenario might look like.
"The big message today is we're at a place with this pandemic where those requirements of the past are no longer needed for the foreseeable future, and we will be watching closely to determine if and when we need other public health protections to come back into play," he said.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show the CDC's updated policy on travelers entering the U.S.
ABC7 News' Kate Larsen contributed to this story.
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