Everything to know about California’s June 15 reopening, from capacity limits to the mask mandate


On June 15, California plans to “fully reopen” its economy. What exactly does that mean? We break down everything you need to know.

What will change starting June 15?

First off, the state is ditching the color-coded reopening system. All counties, regardless of how high or low coronavirus transmission is, will be allowed to reopen all at the same time.

In short, pretty much everything will be allowed to go back to normal. There won’t be any required capacity limits, no more physical distancing, and much looser mask mandates.

All those lifted restrictions are at the state level. Counties, cities and local businesses still have the right to set their own capacity limits or other rules, as they see fit.

What about large events like sports games and big concerts — what restrictions are in place there?

These sort of “mega events” — as the state is calling them — are the only area with some COVID-19 restrictions still in place after June 15.

• At outdoor live events with more than 10,000 people, California will recommend venues have a verification of vaccination/negative test in place. Those who aren’t vaccinated or who don’t show a negative test result can still enter if they wear a mask. This is a recommendation from the state, not a requirement.

• Indoor venues with 5,000 or more people are required to implement a similar verification. However, at these indoor events, non-vaccinated people who don’t show a negative COVID-19 test result can’t enter, the state says.

This is a requirement, not a recommendation.

These guidelines are going to be in place for conferences, conventions, concerts, sporting events and the like until Oct. 1. The California Department of Public Health says it will re-evaluate the situation on Sept. 1 and decide if an extension is necessary.

When will I still have to wear a mask?

Starting June 15, California plans to update its mask mandate to comply with CDC recommendations. That means fully vaccinated people will be allowed to do pretty much everything they were doing before the pandemic without needing to wear a mask. That includes grocery shopping, going to the gym, drinking at a bar, seeing a movie or going to church.

There are just a few places where vaccinated people will still need to wear masks, including hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters and during travel (including air travel and mass transit).

If you’re not vaccinated, you’ll still be required to wear a mask. How will businesses be able to tell the difference? That’s trickier. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state is working on writing up best practices that businesses will be able to follow.

Will there be travel restrictions in place?

California recommends people delay non-essential travel until they are fully vaccinated, but no travel restrictions will be in effect. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test isn’t required to enter the U.S. nor California, but your destination may still require proof of vaccination and/or a negative test result.

Will there be stricter rules in the Bay Area?

Health officers in the San Francisco Bay Area, who have at times played it even safer than the state when it comes to reopening, have indicated they’ll be following California’s lead this time. We are expecting the nine Bay Area counties to adopt the same rules (and lack thereof) outlined by the state above.

What will trigger another COVID-19 shutdown?

That hasn’t been announced yet. As vaccination rates continue to climb steadily, California has seen declining COVID-19 cases for six months, even as more businesses and sectors of the economy have been allowed to reopen.

When announcing the details of the June 15 reopening, Ghaly was asked about what might trigger the state to potentially lock back down. He said the state would be keeping a close eye on case numbers and COVID-19 variants, but didn’t get into the specifics of what a worst case scenario might look like.

“The big message today is we’re at a place with this pandemic where those requirements of the past are no longer needed for the foreseeable future, and we will be watching closely to determine if and when we need other public health protections to come back into play,” he said.

Alix Martichoux | Contributed

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