After more than a year of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced Tuesday that California will officially fully reopen for business beginning June 15th, however the state's mask mandate will remain in place.
The announcement comes after the state reached several milestones in the fight against the coronavirus. California's Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly, said California has vaccinated 20 million residents and more than 4 million equity doses. More than 70 percent of older California residents have been received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Ghaly also added that the state is administering more than 2 million doses every week.
“With all of that, we are at the stage where we're ready to consider the next aspect of our pandemic response,'' Ghaly said. “The road to this moment hasn't been easy. We have come together as Californians to save thousands of lives. And now we look at what is beyond that Blueprint for a Safer Economy that has been guiding California's slow, public-health-minded transition and opening of our economy. ... We look to get to that end of the blueprint.''
Officials say the state will discard the color-coded 'Blueprint to a Safer Economy' the four-tier, color-coded system that guided economic reopening through a series of restrictions and capacity limits. All counties across the state will make the move to reopen simultaneously.
“This means the end to our color-coded tiers,'' he said. “You can go to movies, to the beach and see family.''
The mask mandate will remain in place, but businesses and other venues will be allowed to reopen without occupancy limits.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also struck a positive tone in the announcement Tuesday, but cautioned that residents still had to remain cautious.
"This is really a race, these vaccines, against the variants, against the mutations,'' Newsom said. "And that's why, again, ... it is incumbent upon all of us not to announce `mission accomplished,' not to put down our guard, but to continue that vigilance that got us where we are today – the lowest case rates, positivity rates. ... We are seeing the bright light at the end of the tunnel, and on June 15, all things being equal -- continue that good work -- we'll have moved beyond the blueprint and we'll be opening up this economy and business as usual.''
Newsom said he expects schools, community colleges and universities across the state to return to in- person instruction. Although he stopped short of saying they would be required to do so.
"There will be no barrier to having our kids back for in-person instruction,'' Newsom added.
“We want to emphasize that we continue to focus over these now 10 weeks from today, a period where we continue to push out vaccinations and continue to focus on those personal protective measures, those mitigating measures -- wearing our masks in settings, especially indoors, when we're in crowds,'' Ghaly said.
Dr. Ghaly told reporters that the June 15th date was chosen because it falls about 8 weeks after all California residents become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, that date could shift if the vaccine supply is interrupted or if health officials see a spike in hospitalizations for the coronavirus.
“We will only keep moving toward this June 15 date, not only by emphasizing vaccines, but also by emphasizing the ongoing work of Californians,'' Ghaly said. “This really continues to be on our shoulders to make the responsible decision to keep our masks on, to avoid crowds and other settings where we still might encounter COVID. But as we move toward that date on June 15, we look forward to this two-month period not just to keep our focus on vaccines, but to give our partners in communities, in businesses and other sectors a chance to prepare to be ready for this post-blueprint era in California.''
Currently, there are no plans for a 'vaccine passport' program in the state and businesses will be allowed to keep safeguards in place if they desire. Presently, there is no roadmap for large festival events like Coachella.
Photo: Getty Images
This is a breaking news update. More details will be added as they become available.