Watch CBS News

California To Remove Physical Distancing Guidelines June 15, Allow Full Capacity

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California no longer will require social distancing and will allow full capacity for businesses when the state reopens on June 15, the state's top health official said Friday.

GettyImages-1307678326
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 17: Diners eat dinner at a restaurant's outdoor tables on March 17, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. After undergoing various shutdown orders for the past 12 months because of COVID-19, Los Angeles is currently in the red tier of its reopening plan, allowing for low-risk outdoor activities, movie and television productions, indoor dining, gyms, amusement parks, and movie theaters to reopen with capacity restrictions (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

State health director Dr. Mark Ghaly said that dramatically lower virus cases and increasing vaccinations mean it's safe for the state to remove nearly all restrictions next month.

"Something very important happens on June 15 In California," Ghaly said. "We are now at a point, given our metrics that we've been watching, that California is at a place where we can begin to talk about moving beyond the blueprint," the state's color-coded, four-tier system that that has restricted activities based on each county's virus prevalence.

That won't mean an abrupt end to wearing masks, he said, but it will mean the state will adjust its guidelines to correspond to national guidelines.

Last Monday, California officials had said they will wait until mid-June to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention new mask guidelines that say it's safe for fully vaccinated people to skip face coverings and social distancing in virtually all situations. The federal guidelines state that everyone should still wear masks in crowded indoor locations such as airplanes, buses, hospitals and prisons.

California's workforce regulators are separately developing safety rules that will continue to apply to employers, Ghaly said.

The state will still recommend that organizers of outdoor events with more than 10,000 people require that attendees 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 to wear masks, Ghaly said.

The state will require vaccine verification or negative test results for indoor events with more than 5,000 attendees, but Ghaly said that can be "by self-attestation" with details to come from health officials on how that process will work.

State officials do not anticipate that they will create or require a vaccination "passport" or other formal verification, he said.

He said California also plans to follow federal CDC guidelines on traveling domestically and overseas.

That means no more discouraging travel unless there are certain countries where visiting is not advised, and no more voluntary quarantines when people return to California.

California was the first state to issue a statewide shutdown as the virus emerged in March 2020 and at the start of 2021 it was the nation's epicenter for the disease. Nearly 63,000 people have died from the virus in California, the most in any state in the nation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and state health officials have said for weeks they expected to generally lift most business and social restrictions by June 15. Ghaly said the state remains on track to do so just months after the worse surge abated.

The state of 40 million people has administered nearly 35.5 million vaccine doses, and more than three-quarters of residents over age 65 have received at least one dose, he said.

"Vaccines are widely available and we're proud of where we are," Ghaly said.

On some days, newly reported infection cases have fallen below 1,000 and there currently are just over 1,300 people in hospitals with the virus.

"We haven't enjoyed that level since the very early months and weeks of the pandemic," Ghaly said.

(© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.