The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Council initially said masks would still be needed unless everyone in the same room has been vaccinated. However, last week the board reversed and said fully vaccinated workers did not need to wear masks or physical distancing, regardless of the immunization status of others.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has indicated he will sign an executive order later this week on the use of masks in the workplace “to dispel any ambiguity.”
Public health measures will only remain for mega-events with 5,000 or more people inside or 10,000 participants outside, with vaccine verification required or at least recommended, according to the revised health order.
California will also stop limiting capacity and enforcing physical distancing at all sites, and the color-coded tier system for each county will be removed, Newsom said in a press release on Friday.
“California is turning the page on this pandemic, thanks to the swift state action and the work of Californians who have followed public health guidelines and been vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities,” Newsom said . “With nearly 40 million vaccines administered and among the lowest case rates in the country, we are lifting the orders that affect Californians every day while remaining vigilant to protect public health and safety as the pandemic continues. “
The grand reopening comes as a majority of residents have been vaccinated and infections and deaths from Covid-19 have declined sharply after a surprising peak this winter.
Today, about 72% of adults and about 59% of all residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data. Among the 50 states, California has the third lowest seven-day per capita death rate and the seventh lowest seven-day per capita infection rate.
At a press conference on Monday, Newsom said the reopening did not mean efforts to stop the virus were over.
“We are not finished. This is not the football of tomorrow. It is not a mission accomplished tomorrow. This virus will not go away tomorrow. This pandemic is not behind us tomorrow. We are very aware that already in 2021 in the world, more people have lost their lives to Covid than in the whole of 2020, ”he said.
Newsom also acknowledged that the CDC’s mask-wearing guidelines are based on people telling the truth about their immunization status.
“It’s on the basis of trust, and that’s the system that is in place nationally and that is the system that will be in place in California,” he said.
However, not all the rules have returned to normal. Some executive decrees will remain in place, including one that allows pharmacy technicians to administer doses of vaccine. Some provisions will be slowly withdrawn, with around 90% of the governor’s decrees related to the pandemic due to be lifted by September, Newsom’s office estimated.
Health officials plan to keep these new guidelines in place at least until October.
CNN’s Alexandra Meeks contributed to this report.