California Eases Mask Mandate

by K. Ferreira, Staff Writer, Mid Valley News

On June 15, California will no longer require social distancing and will allow full capacity for businesses. The state’s long-standing county tier system – the Blueprint for a Safer Economy – that determined restriction and limitations was also lifted along with the indoor mask mandate.The first and biggest change is the removal of all capacity limits and physical distancing requirements, regardless of setting. That means bars, restaurants, concert venues, grocery stores and everything in between can open at full capacity — if they so choose.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly made the announcement during a press briefing last week. Dr. Ghaly did note that masks would still be required for all residents whether vaccinated or not in certain high-risk and closed settings including public transportation and transportation hubs such as airports and bus or train stations; indoor K-12 schools; health care settings; and homeless/emergency shelters and cooling centers

“Fully vaccinated people can resume everyday activities without wearing a mask, except in a few limited settings that are required by federal and state rules,” explained Dr. Ghaly.

“Business owners will need to post requirements that people who are unvaccinated are still required to wear masks,” he said. “But if somebody comes into their business or their operation without a mask, it should be considered a self-attestation for someone being vaccinated. We are not requiring businesses to, for example, have somebody at the door checking vaccine status as a way to comply with this.”

The state will also not require most businesses to check someone’s vaccination status before they are allowed inside without a mask.

It will be up to businesses as to whether they allow customers to self attest, do their own checks for vaccination status, or have their own mask requirements. Safeway has already announced that it will drop its mask requirement for the vaccinated and many local businesses are ready to do the same.

Counties will still be free to impose their own public health restrictions if they choose to — but only if they’re stricter than what the state is requiring. The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors have already declared their intent to follow the State’s guidelines.

All of California’s restrictions on travel outside the state will be lifted. Any travel restrictions down the line will be in alignment with the CDC, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said on a call with reporters Friday.

The state’s Occupational Safety and Health board agreed to take the new state public health mask guidance into account and vote on new workplace rules on June 17. If affirmed, those rules wouldn’t ordinarily become official policy until June 28, but on Monday Newsom vowed to sign an executive order putting the rules into effect immediately.

California is also not considering creating a vaccine passport at this time, Ghaly said.