The State of California has partnered with The Center at Sierra Health Foundation to present the Masking Series by prominent African-American visual artist Jessica Wimbley as part of a campaign to reach disproportionately impacted communities throughout California. (304230)
The State of California has partnered with The Center at Sierra Health Foundation to present the Masking Series by prominent African-American visual artist Jessica Wimbley as part of a campaign to reach disproportionately impacted communities throughout California. Credit: The Center at Sierra Health Foundation

According to recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fully vaccinated persons can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

That’s where California’s laws come into effect. Masks, capacity limitations, and other rules of the road will not be lifted locally until June 15.

California has administered nearly 20 million vaccines and COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations have stabilized. The state is looking to move beyond its “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” and fully reopen on June 15. At that time, all industries across the state can return to usual operations with common-sense risk reduction measures such as masking and vaccinations.

“This four-week period will give Californians time to adjust to change,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said, adding that the state doesn’t believe CDC guidelines need to be challenged or are wrong, the department merely wishes to give Californians more time.

The June date for reopening still depends on if two criteria are met: Equitable vaccine availability, that is, if vaccine supply is sufficient for Californians 16 years or older who wish to be inoculated. And secondly, there is a consistently low burden of disease: Hospitalizations are stable and low, and specifically, hospitalizations among fully vaccinated individuals are low.

When those criteria are met, then California will align its mask guidance with the CDC’s, so fully-vaccinated Californians can go without a mask in most indoor settings. Individuals will still have the option to wear a mask if they choose.

“We continue to give vaccines to communities, especially those hard hit by COVID-19,” Ghaly said during Monday’s phone update. “We continue to urge—from the mountaintops if you will—all adults to get vaccinated.”

Ghaly hopes that those persons who wanted to wait a bit longer before getting vaccinated will get their shot during the next four weeks so that they can experience being maskless in June.

“There’s very little wait in lines now,” Ghaly said, adding that employers will have these four weeks to get ready to implement new guidelines. “In large part, Californians have done a great job. We’ve seen case rates come down.”

Ghaly said that the state has made great progress in two areas: Making sure the healthcare delivery system can take care of covid victims and that all age-eligible Californians can be vaccinated by June 15.

According to the CDPH, for fully vaccinated persons, face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.

For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained, including when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.

In indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status, except as outlined below.

As defined in the CDPH Fully Vaccinated Persons Guidance, fully vaccinated people can:

• Visit, without wearing masks or physical distancing, with other fully vaccinated people in indoor or outdoor settings; and

• Visit, without wearing masks or physical distancing, with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease in indoor and outdoor settings

The CDPH continues to push the need for vaccinations throughout the general public and masking in schools is still required.

“We have a long way to go to reach the level we want to see certainly by summer and when schools reopen in the fall,” Ghaly said.