First we thought we’d all have to hide out for just two weeks, then maybe for just another month, and after that we were aiming for businesses as usual in time for July 4th—of 2020. But finally, a year and some months later, we can say for real: Los Angeles is open again, and so is the rest of the state.
As of June 15, California has dropped its color-coded reopening tiers as well as nearly all of the pandemic rules. Things won’t look exactly like they did before March 2020, and it may still take days or weeks for some businesses to be ready to get back to “normal”; after all, while the daily case rates of Covid-19 in California are some of the lowest in the country right now, they’re not zero yet.
Today brings a whole lot of meaningful changes to how you go out. Here’s what you need to know.
There are no more capacity limits and no more social distancing rules.
Bar tops closed? Museums at limited capacity? Lines spaced six feet apart? Gone, gone and gone. Almost all of the sector-specific rules that we’ve tried to keep up with over the past year have been retired, as has the state’s travel advisory, so restaurants, bars, shops, movie theaters, museums and more can all choose to operate as they did pre-March 2020.
In addition, a few of the only pandemic-era silver linings will stick around for a bit longer: The state will extend its allowance for to-go cocktails as well as for the outdoor permitting programs that’ve allowed restaurants and bars to expand their seating onto sidewalks and parklets.
If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to wear a mask for most everyday activities.
UPDATE: On July 17, L.A. County implemented an indoor mask mandate for all, regardless of vaccination status.
If it’s been at least two weeks since your final dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, most if not all of your day can be spent mask-free now. But don’t ditch it entirely, because you’ll still need to wear one for now in a few settings:
– On public transit, including trains, planes, buses and ride-shares, and at transportation hubs
– Indoors at K–12 schools and childcare settings
– In healthcare facilities
– At state and local correctional facilities and detention centers
– At homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers
In addition, individual businesses can decide to still require masks. They can’t, however, institute a “no masks allowed” policy. For employees, Cal/OSHA rules may require you to still wear a mask at your workplace past June 15, but it’s looking increasingly likely that these rules will also be eased pretty soon.
On the other hand, if you’re unvaccinated, you’ll still need to wear a mask in all indoor public settings—that includes places like restaurants, movie theaters and shops.
There’s no unified vaccine passport system in place, but the state can help you show proof of your vax status.
California isn’t instituting any sort of wide-reaching system that would require you to show a digital health certificate as you pop into places around town. But some businesses or events may choose to ask you to show a negative test result or proof of your vaccination. In order to assist with that, the state has created a portal to provide you with what’s essentially a digital version of your CDC card (since it’s not mandatory, it’s technically not a passport). L.A. County actually already has a service like this in place that allows you to add proof of your vaccine to Apple Wallet.
Some light guidelines will remain in place for “mega events.”
For things like music festivals, conventions, sporting events and arena-sized concerts, the state is keeping a couple of requirements in regards to vaccination status and test results. You can check out our full story on these rules, but the short version is that if you’re fully vaccinated, you may need to present proof of your vax status for indoor events with more than 5,000 people or at outdoor ones with more than 10,000 attendees. If you’re not fully vaccinated, you’ll need to keep a mask on indoors and you’ll be required to show a negative test result (though “required” may be too strong of a word here given that the government is also allowing businesses to let attendees self-attest).