California on track for June 15 statewide reopening, and here’s what to expect

California officials on Friday announced the state is on track for a wide reopening on June 15, and laid out what changes residents can expect when the date comes, including new requirements for large indoor events.

“We’re at a point where we can actually move beyond saying we expect to open on June 15, to confirming that we’re opening up June 15,” Dee Dee Myers, a senior adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom, said in a media briefing.

The statewide changes don’t mean that local public health jurisdictions can’t put in stricter guidance based on their conditions, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency.

The state has been using a four-tier, color-coded blueprint to guide reopenings for months. While no counties remain in the most-restrictive purple tier for widespread coronavirus transmission, 10 counties remain in the red tier for substantial virus spread.

Los Angeles County, which is in the least restrictive tier, will align with the state’s reopening plans, officials announced later Friday.

As for the state-mandated restrictions, the limits on capacity, physical distancing and around eating and drinking will all “go away,” Myers said.

Here’s what will change after June 15, according to state officials:

  • California will no longer have capacity limitations.
  • There will no longer be physical distancing restrictions for attendees, customers and guests.
  • The state will implement the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s masking plan, which lets fully vaccinated people ditch face coverings in most settings.
  • The state will also align with the CDC’s recommendations on travel, which include restrictions and prohibitions on travelers coming from countries that have severe outbreaks. But there will not be quarantine and isolation requirements for travel within the country.
  • At outdoor events with over 10,000 participants, like festivals, parades, sporting events and concerts, the state is recommending verification of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. Or, if the person is neither vaccinated nor tested, venues can give them the option to attend but with a mask required.
  • At indoor venues with more than 5,000 guests, the state is now requiring, not just recommending, verification of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. That includes conventions, sporting events and concerts.

Ghaly stressed that the state won’t require “vaccine passports.”

To prove vaccination, people can bring either the white CDC card they got when they got the jab, a photocopy of the card or a photo of it on their phone, or documentation of vaccination from a health care provider. 

Venue operators may also have people “self-attest” when they’re buying their tickets or before entering the venue, state officials said.

The plan is to assess conditions by Sept. 1, when the state will determine whether coronavirus test and vaccine verification requirements will need to be updated, officials said.

Ghaly said that with the economy reopening widely there is some concern about increased transmission, but it’s not expected to be significant.

“We’ll see likely some increase in transmission, but because of the level of protection broadly across the state, we don’t think that transmission will have significant impact on our hospital delivery,” Ghaly said.

Conditions in California have improved in recent months. The state has seen COVID-19 hospitalizations decrease, with two-thirds of adult residents at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ghaly said the state will continue to track important metrics, even with the reopening blueprint shelved.

“I do think that if we see a small increase in cases, that it’s going to cause people to decide to maybe not go out as frequently, maybe not go to the large random mixing places,” Ghaly said.

Even with the continued progress statewide and a large reopening on the horizon, officials said there’s still work to be done, especially with vaccinating younger Californians.

“We have a lot of work to make sure that we can deliver on a vision for our K-12 schools, that in the fall we set them up to meet 100% in-person” Ghaly said.

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