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California's Guidelines For The June 15 Reopening: What We Know

Image of several patrons at lunch.
People enjoy lunch at Grand Central Market as indoor dining reopens in Los Angeles, on March 15, 2021.
(Frederic J. Brown
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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California officials today released details of the state’s reopening plan, which will take place on June 15. The color-coded system will be scrapped in favor of far fewer restrictions as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decline.

“Back in April, we made all Californians eligible to be vaccinated and we knew we needed about eight weeks to have a complete immune response,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of health and human services. Over 76% of people over 65 have been vaccinated, he said, and California is one of the leading states in the nation in vaccinations.

Here are the basics of what will happen on June 15:

  • Capacity limits on businesses disappear.
  • No physical distancing requirements for customers and guests at businesses and people attending public or private events.
  • Masking will align with CDC guidance advising that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most cases except for public transport, airplanes, in health care settings and at businesses that mandate them.
  • Quarantine and isolation requirements for people traveling into California will be lifted. After June 15 they will align with CDC recommendations. That may include restrictions and prohibitions on people coming in from certain countries with high COVID-19 cases.

Need more details? Here's what you should know:

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What does this all of this mean for businesses?

Lots of changes are coming. There will be no more capacity limits at businesses or big venues, like arenas. There will no longer be any physical distancing requirements for customers. But for employees it’s a little different. The board of the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health — better known as Cal/OSHA — won’t update workplace rules until early June, so we don’t know yet what those new rules will look like. Cal/OSHA decides safety regulations at almost all workplaces in the state.

What about masks?

On June 15, California will align with the CDC's masking recommendations, which were updated last week. They say that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most cases, both indoors and outdoors — except for on public transport, airplanes, in health care settings and at businesses that mandate them for everyone. But the mask rules at workplaces are still murky.

The Cal/OSHA board may allow fully vaccinated workers without COVID-19 symptoms to forgo masks both as long as everyone else was vaccinated and didn’t have symptoms. We’ll have to wait until May 28 to see the proposed updated safety protections and they’ll vote on them June 3.

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We know that masks reduce airborne transmission of COVID-19. We also know that while two-thirds of Californians have gotten at least one vaccine shot, there are big pockets of people who remain unvaccinated.

We’re in a weird place right now as far as masks go. Best to keep one handy moving forward.

What about big venues like concerts and ball games? Are those allowed again?

Yes, you will be able to go to an event with thousands of people again, starting on June 15. But you may have to prove your vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test. It depends on the venue.

The state is recommending — but not requiring — that mega-outdoor event venues with more than 10,000 attendees verify that patrons are fully vaccinated or provide proof of negative COVID-19 tests.

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Non-vaccinated participants will need to wear a mask. The state health department will provide further guidance on this in the coming days.

For indoor venues with more than 5,000 people, it’s different. They are required to verify if people are vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19. (State health officials didn’t specify how the 5,000-person threshold was decided.)

Whose responsibility is it to determine if someone is vaccinated?

The only real requirement is on indoor venues with more than 5,000 people. But it looks like we’ll see a patchwork of apps. State health officials said they are not developing a so called vaccine passport, like in New York. It’s important to note that people don’t have to be vaccinated to buy tickets or go to a concert under these rules. They just have to self-attest that they tested negative in the last 72 hours.

This seems squishy. Will the counties follow these rules?

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That’s another wrinkle. Counties can impose their own, stricter rules if they want to — this is a floor not a ceiling. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the LA County Health Department , said recently that LA County will follow the state’s rules and she didn’t see them adding their own. But that could change if we had a bunch of new cases.

Will these rules will sunset at any point?

These rules are only in place for the summer. They will end on October 1. But before that, state health officials will look at the cases and hospitalizations to see if they should be lifted or extended.

What questions do you have about Los Angeles?

Updated May 21, 2021 at 2:23 PM PDT
This article was updated to provide more details of the state's reopening plan.