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What you need to know about California's June 15 reopening: Masks, travel and more

KCRA Sacramento logo KCRA Sacramento 6/18/2021
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California has fully reopened after months of public health restrictions, a color-coded tier system and a mask mandate.

As of June 15, California no longer requires physical distancing and allows full capacity for businesses. The state's long-standing county tier system that determines restrictions has also been lifted, and the indoor mask mandate is no more.

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However, there are some caveats to California's reopening.

Here's what you need to know about California's June 15 reopening:

Can I ditch my mask when going to the grocery store, the movies or a bar?

If you are fully vaccinated, probably. California ended its mask mandate June 15 to align with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In many cases, people who are fully vaccinated will not need to wear a mask indoors unless a business opts to require that customers mask up. (See more on that below.)

Cases where fully vaccinated people DO need to wear a mask inside in California:

  • On public transit (examples: airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares); in transportation hubs (examples: airport, bus terminal, marina, train station, seaport or other port, subway station or any other area that provides transportation)
  • Indoors in K-12 schools, child care and other youth settings. (Note: This may change as updated K-12 schools guidance is forthcoming from the CDC.)
  • Health care settings, which includes long-term care facilities
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
  • Homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers

Unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks indoors at places like restaurants, movie theaters and grocery stores, says California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

Additionally, Californians can continue to wear masks if they choose, especially around children and others who are vulnerable or not yet eligible for inoculation.

Do I need to prove I'm vaccinated to get into places?

Dr. Ghaly says that businesses have a few different options when it comes to their customers:

  • Ask customers if they are fully vaccinated so they can go without masks, but no proof is needed. It is essentially an honor system that relies on customers self-attesting their vaccination status.
  • Ask customers to prove they are fully vaccinated so they can go without masks.
  • Require all customers to continue wearing masks regardless of whether or not they're vaccinated.

California officials have rolled out a way for residents to access their COVID-19 vaccine records digitally.

The records, which can be used to gain access to businesses or events that require proof of full vaccination, can be found by going to myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov.

What does this mean for large-scale concerts and events?

California says it will require vaccine verification or negative COVID-19 test results for indoor events with more than 5,000 attendees, which the state considers "mega events."

The state is also recommending 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, according to guidance from the state health department.

Do I need to wear a mask indoors at work?

California regulators have approved revised workplace rules that allow employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 the same freedoms as when they are off the job, including ending most mask requirements.


Video: California Keeping Mask Mandate Until June 15 (CBS Sacramento)

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Fully vaccinated employees will not need to wear masks, except in locations like mass transit and classrooms (where they are required for everyone), or in the event of outbreaks.

Employers must document that workers who skip masks indoors are fully vaccinated. But employers have the choice of requiring workers to show proof of vaccination or allowing employees to self-report their status.

Employers could also decide to require everyone to remain masked, regardless of vaccination status.

Additionally, vaccinated employees can still wear masks if they choose without facing retaliation.

Should my unvaccinated children still wear masks?

Children younger than 2 years old should not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.

Since children 12 and younger are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, they are like other unvaccinated people: Except at home, they still must wear masks indoors and in most public situations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

How do I know if people around me have been vaccinated?

Business owners and venue operators have the power to require vaccine verification at their establishments. Beyond that, as of now, it's essentially an honor system.

What does California reopening mean for travel?

Californians should follow CDC travel recommendations, which recommend that Americans delay travel until they are fully vaccinated.

Domestic travel: People who are fully vaccinated can travel safely within the United States.

International travel: Because the COVID-19 situation varies country to country, travelers need to keep a close eye on the coronavirus conditions at their destination before boarding a plane.

Could things in California be different county by county?

Yes. A California county can implement rules that are stricter than the state's.

Gov. Gavin Newsom isn't ending the statewide "state of emergency." What does this mean for reopening?

Newsom is keeping emergency powers given to him by a court in his back pocket "in case things go south," according to political analyst Steve Swatt.

"If there's a problem, for example in vaccine distribution, if there's a problem with a new variant coming in, that he can impose new restrictions as he sees fit," Swatt said.

The governor's office sent KCRA 3 the following statement regarding the "state of emergency":

"The Emergency Proclamation recognizes that local jurisdictions cannot combat COVID-19 on their own, so it provides the state administrative flexibility to respond swiftly to the crisis and ensures we can support locals in their response to the pandemic. Moreover, it allows California to continue coordinating with FEMA on a number of ongoing programs, like vaccinations and testing, which is especially important as the state continues vaccinating millions of people every week."

| MORE | COVID-19 vaccines in California: Everything you need to know

— The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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