• Fri. Jan 28th, 2022


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California’s Full-Capacity Reopening

Good morning.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month that California would fully reopen its economy in June if Covid-19 hospitalizations stayed low and the vaccine supply remained high. But it was never clear what fully reopened meant exactly.

On Friday, state health officials provided some specifics.

In just three weeks, on June 15, California, the most populous state in the country, will return to the closest thing to normal since the pandemic began.

There are a few caveats and exceptions, mostly for large indoor and outdoor events. But the memo-style guidelines issued by the state’s Department of Public Health on Friday used a bit of dry, bureaucratic lingo — “all sectors listed in the current Blueprint Activities and Business Tiers Chart may return to usual operations” — to herald the start of post-pandemic California.

Here are a few highlights.

One of the hallmarks of the pandemic — the line of people standing outside a gym, shop or grocery store because of capacity limits — will soon be a thing of the past.

Various businesses and establishments have been dealing with capacity restrictions for months, including movie theaters, bars, restaurants and places of worship. But those limits will lift on June 15, as the state ends its color-coded system of pandemic restrictions that have been loosened or tightened depending on the spread of the virus in each county.

It didn’t take long for the news to sink in. The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that tickets for full-capacity games at Dodger Stadium for June 15 and through the remainder of the season would go on sale Thursday.

State health officials said there would be no rules on physical distancing among attendees, customers and guests in all business sectors.

“We’re at a place with this pandemic where those requirements of the past are no longer needed for the foreseeable future,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of health and human services, told reporters on Friday.

Effective June 15, several restrictions will apply to indoor and outdoor mass gatherings that state officials call “mega events.” These are settings with more than 5,000 people indoors and more than 10,000 people outdoors, with either assigned or unassigned seating. A baseball game at the 56,000-seat Dodger Stadium, for example, qualifies as an outdoor mega event.

Large events have a higher risk of spreading Covid-19, state officials said, because people are physically close to those they do not normally interact with for an extended period of time.

So officials are requiring that all attendees of indoor mega events show proof that they have been fully vaccinated or have a negative Covid test before entry. That applies at conventions, business conferences, sports events, concerts and similar gatherings.

The rules are different for outdoor mega events, including music festivals, car shows, marathons, parades, and larger sports events and concerts. Attendees are recommended, but not required, to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result. However, those who have not been vaccinated or tested can still enter the event as long as they wear a face covering.

Those who are fully vaccinated in California do not need to wear a mask in most settings. But there are a few exceptions.

The Department of Public Health’s guidance states that vaccinated and unvaccinated people are required to wear face coverings when attending crowded outdoor events. At indoor events, masks are required regardless of vaccination status.

  • A man’s TikTok video inviting people to his birthday party in Huntington Beach went viral and soon spun out of control on Saturday night. The crowd grew to at least 2,500 people, some of whom were accused of throwing bottles, rocks and fireworks at police officers. Nearly 150 people were arrested, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • The relatives of a 6-year-old boy who was shot and killed on Friday on his way to school announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The boy, Aiden Leos, was riding in a booster seat in a car on the 55 Freeway in Orange County when he was fatally wounded in a road-rage shooting, The Orange County Register reports.

  • The Sacramento Bee asks a question as the recall campaign against Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to attract national attention: If former President Donald J. Trump loves bashing California, why has he been so quiet about the recall?

  • The man who spent more time on Alcatraz than any prisoner is retiring. John Cantwell, a National Park Service ranger, spent 30 years on the Rock, beating the record set by Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, a prisoner there for 26 years, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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