California Plans to Lift Most COVID Restrictions June 15

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that the Golden State could lift most COVID-19 restrictions by June 15 if vaccine supply is sufficient for everyone over 16 and hospitalizations are low.

"With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California's economy," said Governor Newsom. "We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic."

Newsom said the state would lift its tiered system of restriction, known as the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, but its mask mandate and other "commonsense health measures" would remain in place.

"We are seeing bright light at the end of the tunnel," Newsom said at a news conference. "And on June 15, all things being equal and we continue that good work, we'll have moved beyond that blueprint and we'll be opening up this economy at business as usual."

The governor urges everyone to remain vigilant, and continue "the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter."

"Everyday activities will be allowed and businesses can open with common-sense risk reduction measures, including encouraging all Californians to get vaccinated and mandating masking, to prevent illness and promote health," Newsom said in a press release. "The state will continue contact tracing and testing to detect cases early and contain spread of the virus. The state will monitor hospitalization rates, vaccine access and vaccine efficacy against variants, with the option to revisit the June 15 date if needed."

In a memo outlining the transition, state public health officials said business sectors will be able to return to usual operations with "limited" public health restrictions.

Events at stadiums and other large venues will be permitted, though conventions with groups larger than 5000 will require either proof of vaccines or testing until Oct. 1, said California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly.

"California is able to reopen fully and safely because of our commitment to the equitable distribution of vaccines," Newsom said. "The state reached a total of 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered to Californians in some of the state's hardest-hit communities, less than a month after delivering 2 million doses to these communities. The state will continue its extensive efforts to get eligible Californians vaccinated, including its support of expanded hours and access through community clinics and providers, public education campaign. Equity continues to be the focus of our vaccine efforts, especially as we prepare to fully reopen."

Newsom opponents claimed the announcement was politically motivated. "Amazing what 2,175,000 signatures on a Recall petition will do to get things done," Randy Economy, Newsom Recall organizer, wrote on Twitter.

Nearly 1.5 million verified signatures are needed to trigger a recall, with a special election likely in the fall.


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