Cal to End Social Distancing in June
June 3, 2021
(AP) - California no longer will require social distancing and will allow full capacity for businesses when the state reopens on June 15, the state's top health official said Friday.
"We're at a place with this pandemic where those requirements of the past are no longer needed for the foreseeable future," Secretary of California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said.
He said dramatically lower virus cases and increasing vaccinations mean it's safe for California to remove nearly all restrictions next month. The state of nearly 40 million people has administered nearly 35.5 million vaccine doses, he said, and more than three-quarters of residents over 65 have received at least one dose.
As one result, the state in mid-June will end its color-coded four-tier system that restricts activities based on each county's virus prevalence.
Limits on how many people can be inside businesses at any one time will disappear, he said, and "there will no longer be (physical distancing) restrictions for attendees, customers and guests in business sectors."
That won't mean an abrupt end to wearing masks, he said, but the state will adjust its guidelines to correspond to national guidelines.
Officials already announced this week that they would wait until mid-June to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new mask guidelines that say it's safe for fully vaccinated people to skip face coverings and social distancing in virtually all situations. The federal guidelines state that everyone should still wear masks in crowded indoor locations such as airplanes, buses, hospitals and prisons.
California's workforce regulators are separately developing safety rules that will continue to apply to employers, Ghaly said.
"I can't emphasize enough how the vaccine has allowed us to get to a place where we can safely do the things that we loved to do before the pandemic," said Los Angeles County health director Barbara Ferrer. The state's lingering deaths, she said, "are almost all among people not fully vaccinated. This is preventable."
The state will still require vaccine verification or negative test results within 72 hours for indoor events with more than 5,000 attendees.
State officials will also recommend that organizers of outdoor events with more than 10,000 people require attendees to provide verification that they have been vaccinated or have tested negative for the coronavirus. Those who can't or don't provide the verification should be encouraged by organizers to wear masks, Ghaly said.