California health officials announced Monday that the state would begin following the Centers for Disease Control's eased mask guidelines for some indoor settings starting June 15.
The state's health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the date aligns with the state's plan to reopen California's economy on June 15, and allows more time for more Californians to get fully vaccinated.
Ghaly said they also want to give local governments, businesses and communities more time to figure out an implementation system for the relaxed mask rules.
He said health officials would discuss over the next few weeks how they plan to implement the new guidelines and whether or not people will need to show proof of vaccination for certain events.
State health officials said local governments, health departments and private businesses could choose to continue implementing stricter mask guidelines.
"This is in no way saying that the science or direction of the CDC's guidelines is wrong. It's just giving us some extra time to have this implemented with a high degree of integrity," Ghaly said.
The California health secretary said that fully vaccinated people will still have to wear face coverings in public schools until June 15.
He also said businesses should encourage their customers to continue wearing masks until the mask requirements are rescinded. Many large retailers have released updated masking policies following the CDC's announcement, including Target, Trader Joe's and Walmart, but most of those policies are contingent on local regulations.
Currently, fully vaccinated Californians are not required to wear face masks outdoors except for at crowded events and when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Last week, the CDC released new guidance saying that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
Dr. Ghaly said that the next four weeks would allow health officials to monitor if COVID case rates and hospitalizations remain low and to increase the number of people fully vaccinated.
By the middle of June, California plans to move away from its color-coded tier system that regulates closures and openings county-by-county and capacity limitations will be lifted. The whole state will enter into this phase at the same time.
App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window
Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.