As the state exceeds 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state aims to reopen fully by June 15.
The state will only do so if there are enough vaccines for Californians 16 years or older who want to be vaccinated and if hospitalization rates are both low and stable, according to a press release from the governor’s office. The release added that the date is subject to change based on prevailing conditions and public health guidelines.
“We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic,” Newsom said in the release. “We will need 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.”
If the criteria are met, the release adds, the state will move away from the color-coded tier system established by the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. “Common-sense” risk reduction measures, including wearing facial coverings and some testing and vaccination verification requirements will remain in effect across the state after it reopens, according to the release.
With the emergence of new variants of the virus, the state will continue its efforts to vaccinate eligible Californians equitably and track and contain any new cases, the release adds.
As the state fully reopens the economy, businesses will be able to return to normal service as long as they are in compliance with any statewide guidelines and risk reduction measures in effect. The release notes that large-scale indoor events can also take place, and attendance for conventions where testing and vaccination status is not verified will be capped at 5,000 until Oct. 1.
Schools and higher education institutions are urged to resume full-time, in-person instruction with safety measures in place, according to an update from the California Department of Public Health. Workplaces are also encouraged to promote policies that maximize safety without impacting business operations.
“In order to take the next step, we must continue to do our part to keep this momentum moving in the right direction, and that means continuing to wear a mask and ensuring everyone who is eligible gets the vaccine,” said Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary in the release.