California Is Now Open! What You Need To Know Starting Tuesday

For months now, Governor Gavin Newsom and his team across the state have outlined Tuesday June 15th, 2021 as the date when pandemic restrictions end, including the state-wide mask mandate and color coded tier system. This means no more capacity limits or social distancing.... for most places in California. This shift in rules has come with many confusing changes and reversals for several major organizations, impacting all Californians. Many of the changes are left up to the businesses to decide if they want to still implement the new rules. Not all places you might venture into this week will be back to pre-pandemic levels, but for the most part, bars, restaurants, gyms, museums, sporting events, and many more will be following the removal of the guidelines. Moving forward, before arriving for an activity or for a trip somewhere, it is best to check that specific organizations website or social media for how they are participating with the new guidance, or lack thereof. So here is what you need to know starting on June 15th...

Businesses can decide if they want to still require masks in their establishment

Last week, California's Health and Human Services head Dr. Mark Ghaly said businesses that are concerned about mask-less patrons are allowed to require them inside, whether people are vaccinated or not. The department is not requiring any sort of system to check for proof, however businesses are allowed to ask for proof in their own establishment. The state also says that no one can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of entry or participation, meaning that if you chose to still wear a mask, they can not stop you from entering an establishment or participating in an activity.

Here is a list of what businesses and vendor operators can choose to do:

  • Provide information to guests regarding vaccine guidelines and allow for guests to self-attest they are unmasked and vaccinated
  • Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are still required to wear a mask
  • Require patrons to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status

Most public places will not ask for proof of vaccination

While it is up to each individual business, Dr. Mark Ghaly noted last week the state will not create a state-wide verification system, commonly called a vaccine passport, for enforcement purposes. Governor Newsom is in talks to possibly create an electronic database for those who are vaccinated, as a way for businesses to easily look up who is vaccinated or not. Newsom notes this is not a way to enforce who is still masking or not, but simply as a convenience for businesses that want to implement a verification system in their private establishment.

There are some places you still need to mask up

There are a few exceptions to the removal of the mask guidelines, the biggest one being if you are not vaccinated because it is still required you mask-up even though there is no enforcement system currently in place. Large mass gatherings of certain sizes are still required from the state to require masks, especially for indoors.

Here is a list of places you still need to wear masks no matter vaccination status:

For indoor mega-gatherings for over 5,000 people:

  • Will require proof of vaccination or a pre-entry negative Covid-19 test
  • Requirements are to be outlined with pre-event communication to ensure guests are aware of any additional requirements per venue rules

For outdoor mega-gatherings of over 10,000 people:

  • It is strongly recommended to require proof of vaccination or a pre-entry negative Covid-19 test for all attendees
  • If you do not want to do any of the above options, attendees will be ask to wear a mask
  • Requirements are to be outlined with pre-event communication to ensure guests are aware of any additional requirements per venue rules
  • Venues are required to make available masks for all attendees

The requirements and recommendations for negative testings / vaccine verification will be in place effective June 15, 2021 through October 1, 2021. The state will assess conditions by September 1, 2021, to determine whether updated requirements or recommendations are needed beyond October 1, 2021.

Masks are still required at work until further notice

Under California Division of Occupational Safety and Health rules, masks are required for all workers at all times, indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. Those rules are in place until further changes. On Thursday June 17th, the board will meet again to vote on a possible change to the standards. Governor Newsom has spoken out about creating an Executive Order to overrule those mask requirements for those vaccinated. As of the reopening day June 15th, nothing has changed and masks are still required at places of employment. In that discussed Executive Order, Newsom says the state will provide masks to businesses that have unvaccianted workers, who will still be required to mask up. If Cal/OSHA meets on Thursday and votes to remove the mask requirement for those vaccinated, it would go into effect on June 28th, two week later. An Executive Order would speed up that process and slash the two week waiting period and make the new rules effective immediately. Last week's Cal/OSHA meeting took over 8 hours for the discussion regarding masks at work, which resulted in very conflicting and confusing guidance which eventually go revoked days later. Currently, the agency is operating under guidance issued at the end of 2020, before vaccines were being widely distributed and under different state health regulations.

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