California’s ‘blueprint for a safer economy’ expires; economy set to reopen

Thousands attend the Concerts in the Park at Central Park in Saugus in August 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

By Emily Alvarenga & Raychel Stewart

Signal Staff Writers

Nearly 18 months after the first health officer order was issued for COVID-19, California’s stay-at-home order will expire Tuesday as the economy fully reopens. 

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order, which removes the state’s “blueprint for a safer economy” regulations, meaning the state will no longer require most of the COVID-19 restrictions put in place during the height of the pandemic. 

Aside from mandatory guidance remaining in place for face coverings, schools and mega events, the California Department of Public Health said all other public health guidance will not be mandatory, and instead be recommendations, following Tuesday’s reopening.  

“I strongly encourage Californians to follow such guidance to keep themselves, their families and their communities healthy,” Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, director and state Public Health Officer, said in the state’s health order.  

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials released their own updated health officer order Monday, which aligned with the state’s guidance.  

Mask regulations 

L.A. County officials announced they’d reconsidered and would be aligning the county’s masking regulations with the state. 

Effective Tuesday, masks will no longer be required for fully vaccinated individuals, except in certain settings where all are required to wear masks, such as:  

  • Indoors at schools, child care and other youth settings; 
  • On public transit and in transportation hubs; 
  • In health care settings; 
  • At correctional facilities and detention centers;  
  • At homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers; 
  • At “mega” events.  

However, masks are still required for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses, such as retail, restaurants and family entertainment centers.  

In workplaces, L.A. County’s order defers masking requirements to Cal/OSHA, the state’s workplace safety agency. 

Cal/OSHA’s newly proposed guidelines released Friday also align with the state’s and are set to be voted on Thursday.  

Under Cal/OSHA’s proposed guidelines, fully vaccinated workers are no longer required to wear masks indoors at work and do not have to practice physical distancing, while unvaccinated workers are still required to wear a mask anytime they’re indoors, though there are exceptions for workers who are alone in a room or eating or drinking. 

Employers are expected to verify and document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors, per the proposed guidance. 

If the changes pass during Cal/OSHA’s Thursday meeting, Newsom announced Monday he’d sign an executive order that would allow those regulations to go into effect immediately, rather than after the usual 10-day administrative law review that would push back the effective date to June 28. 

In response to the state’s proposed workplace rules released last week, the California Chamber of Commerce issued a statement, urging Cal/OSHA to provide further clarification to employers “so California can get back to business.” 

No more capacities, physical distancing 

Capacity limits at businesses are also set to be lifted Tuesday, along with any physical distancing requirements.  

Businesses, such as restaurants, bars and wineries, among others, who have been limiting the number of customers would no longer be required to do so and are permitted to operate at 100% capacity indoors.  

L.A. County’s health officer order continues to encourage people to consider moving operations or activities outdoors when possible.  

‘Mega’ events 

Mega events are categorized as events with either 5,000 people or more in an indoor setting or 10,000 or more in an outdoor setting, such as concerts, festivals, sporting events and parades. 

The updated state health officer order requires venues hosting indoor mega events to have all attendees show proof of vaccine verification or a pre-entry negative COVID-19 test done within 72 hours prior to the event. 

For outdoor events, vaccine verification or a pre-entry negative test is recommended by the state’s Public Health Department, but not required. 

The state’s requirements and recommendations for vaccine verification and pre-entry negative test will go into effect until Oct. 1. Public Health will assess COVID-19 conditions Sept. 1 and determine if updated requirements or recommendations are needed beyond October. 

School guidance 

Face coverings will continue to be required for all public and private K-12 schools, per the health officer order.  

School districts will be required to maintain the reopening health and safety protocols set in place by the county, such as stable groups required for elementary schools and recommended by Public Health for middle and high schools. 

These guidelines are pending an update expected later this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

State of emergency to stay in place 

By the end of September, nearly 90% of the executive actions taken since March 2020 will have been lifted, according to Newsom. However, California is expected to remain under a state of emergency, giving the governor the power to alter or suspend laws in the future if necessary. 

Los Angeles County officials are scheduled to hold a press conference Tuesday, observing the reopening of the state, with details yet to be released as of the publication of this article. 

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