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No more tiers: California is aiming to fully reopen by June 15

But the mask mandate will remain in place.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

California has seen a flurry of eased restrictions lately, along with the announcement of the phased-in return of things like theme parks and theater. But in just a couple of months, we might be able to toss all of that aside as California opens for real.

On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California will ditch its color-coded reopening tiers on June 15. At that point, “we can start to open up as business as usual”—but masks and what Newsom called “common sense” measures will still stick around for the near future.

That June date could change—and Newsom says there’s always the prospect that, if things take a turn for the worse, restrictions could have to be added beyond that date. But as long as California’s vaccine supply remains sufficient for all adults who want want one and hospitalization rates stay low, Newsom says he feels confident that we’ll be able to move beyond the reopening blueprint. Unlike reopenings in the tier system that occurred county by county, this one will affect the entire state.

Once we leave the tier system behind, the California Department of Public Health says that some limited restrictions may remain in place, like require all attendees at large-scale events to be tested or vaccinated in order for them to operate at a higher capacity. Otherwise, conventions (these are specifically called out in the CDPH memo but not other types of events) will be capped at 5,000 attendees until October 1.

For weeks now, the governor had been hinting at news of a return-to-nearly-normal green tier. But in a surprise, today’s news suggests that the green tier basically means no tiers anymore.

At the same time, Newsom announced that the state has administered 20 million vaccine doses, and specifically four million to the hardest-hit communities. That last number will trigger a change to the reopening framework—while it still remains in place, at least—that will make it easier for counties to move into the yellow tier, when bars can reopen indoors. Currently, a county needs to have less than one case per 100,000 people to move into the yellow tier, but that should change to two cases. On April 6, the state said L.A. County had 3.1 cases per 100,000 people.

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