California to enter final stage of reopening plan, relaxing mask requirements
(Esther Li/Daily Bruin staff)
June 15, 2021 1:46 p.m.
This post was updated June 15 at 11:10 p.m.
California ended limits on business capacity and eased mask requirements for fully vaccinated individuals Tuesday in the final stage in the state’s reopening plan.
The California Department of Public Health issued a health guidance effective Tuesday stating that fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks in most public settings such as gyms, restaurants and stores. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks in public transportation, homeless shelters, indoor K-12 school settings, healthcare and correctional facilities, according to the CDPH.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines require masks on public transportation in and out of the United States regardless of vaccination status and fully vaccinated individuals may resume activities without wearing a mask except in areas they are required by federal, state, local or workplace guidelines.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office published a press release June 11 announcing pandemic executive orders will be lifted, meaning orders such as the county-tiered system will be eliminated, effective June 15 as part of his Beyond the Blueprint reopening plan.
“With nearly 40 million vaccines administered and among the lowest case rates in the nation, we are lifting the orders that impact Californians on a day-to-day basis while remaining vigilant to protect public health and safety as the pandemic persists,” the press release stated.
As of June 14, 55.6% people in California are fully vaccinated, meaning individuals received all doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two weeks ago. According to the CDPH, around 15% of California’s population remain ineligible for the vaccination due to age restrictions, which include children under the age of 12.
Individuals who are currently unvaccinated are required to wear masks in indoor settings.
Businesses are allowed to implement mandatory vaccination verification, such as proof of a vaccination card, for customers to determine if they can go maskless inside, according to the CDPH health guidance. Depending on the business, individuals can self-attest that are in compliance with the vaccine requirements, the guidance added.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released an order Tuesday stating LA County health guidelines will follow the state’s requirements for masks and business capacity. All LA County businesses must continue to follow COVID-19 infection control protocols and mandated reporting of outbreaks in accordance with LACDPH guidelines.
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will vote to approve a plan Thursday for most fully vaccinated workers, with the exception of healthcare workers, to stop wearing masks and physically distancing themselves in the workplace.
Unvaccinated workers would be still required to wear masks in indoor settings except for when they are eating or alone, according to the proposal.
Vaccine verification or proof of a negative COVID-19 test are required for indoor events larger than 5,000 people and recommended for outdoor events bigger than 10,000 people, stated the CDPH. However, there are no restrictions on capacity or physical distancing at indoor or outdoor events.
The CDPH does not require masks for individuals younger than two years old, those with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, persons who are hearing impaired or work in a setting where masks would create a risk.
All UCLA employees under Cal/OSHA regulations must wear masks inside campus buildings and outdoors when they cannot physically distance, UCLA spokesperson Bill Kisliuk said.
Kisliuk said testing is still required by UCLA for individuals on campus who have not opted through vaccine verification.
“Employees must also continue to follow other existing health and safety protocols — including physical distancing and symptom monitoring — until further notice,” Kisliuk said.
Daily symptom monitoring will continue to be mandatory by Cal/OSHA for on-campus and UCLA Health workers, regardless of vaccination status, UCLA said in an campuswide email Tuesday.
The University will also be switching to self-administered test kits that will be available for free to active Bruin Card holders via vending machines on campus starting July 12, according to the email. Testing sites at Collins Court and Switzer Plaza will be opened until July 9 and an in-person testing option will be open at 300 Bradley Hall beginning July 12 for those needing assistance or accommodations for testing, the email said.
UCLA also proposed new protocols that will likely go into effect June 17 depending on the approval of the Cal/OSHA revision to mask requirements in the workplace. Based on new university guidelines, fully vaccinated UCLA employees do not have to wear masks indoors even among unvaccinated coworkers and unvaccinated employees are not required to wear face coverings outdoors, according to the email.
In addition, physical distancing and solid partitions in the workplace will be removed entirely with exceptions such as an outbreak occurring, the email said.