When California reopens on June 15, you might not need a mask in public places — but where and when depends.
California’s masking guidelines on Tuesday will fall in alignment with those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says that fully vaccinated people can resume most activities without physical distancing or face coverings.
The agency said that both indoor and outdoor events provide a minimal risk to fully vaccinated people, and that they have a reduced capability to transmit COVID-19 to others. However, the CDC does recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear face coverings when meeting with unvaccinated people, particularly those at high risk for COVID-19.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, according to a CDC science brief, have been shown to be at least 80% effective against asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 infection.
But in its updated mask-wearing guidelines, the California Department of Public Health noted that around 15% of the California population didn’t have the option to be vaccinated — for example, kids 12 years and under — and that unvaccinated people had a higher risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on June 4 that he will not be lifting the pandemic emergency after June 15, saying that COVID-19 wasn’t “taking the summer months off.” The state has been running a lottery to incentivize people to get vaccinated, the first winners of which were announced June 4.
However, during the lottery announcement, Newsom also underscored that guidance around masking was subject to change in the coming months.
“Over the course of the next few months, we’ll unfold with updates, recommendations, less mandates, more encouragement, more incentives and more resources,” he said. “We’ll be making more information available, making stronger determinations and ultimately updating our guidelines accordingly,”
Here’s where masks are still needed in California starting June 15, where they aren’t and how those standards change for different people.
Where are masks needed for all people, regardless of vaccination status?
Masks are still required on public transportation, transportation hubs like airports, indoors in K-12 schools and youth settings, healthcare settings, correctional facilities, detention centers and shelters.
The CDC has not yet released specific, updated guidance for mask-wearing in youth settings, including K-12 schools.
Where are masks needed for unvaccinated people?
Masks are still required for unvaccinated people in indoor public settings and businesses, such as restaurants and theaters.
How will businesses and other public settings check for vaccination status?
In public businesses where fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, employers and operators have a number of options. They can require all visitors to wear masks, provide information on masking, vaccination and COVID-19 spread while enabling visitors to self-attest to vaccination status or implement a vaccine verification system.
One potential system is vaccine passports, which businesses could check to determine an individual’s vaccination status. However, that idea has drawn criticism from groups concerned about privacy violations and a passport’s failure to consider inequities in vaccine distribution. California has said it will not implement its own vaccine passport system, and is leaving those decisions up to businesses.
Do you still need to wear a mask at work?
Yes, all workers still need to wear a face covering when working indoors or working outdoors when they are less than six feet from another person, and when required by the CDPH or their local health department.
That’s based on the current standards from the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards board, also known as Cal/OSHA. The board has gone back and forth with its standards, releasing less restrictive emergency guidance on June 3 that was overturned on June 9.
This could change during the next Cal/OSHA meeting, which takes place June 17.
Who is exempt from wearing a mask in spaces where they are still required?
Children younger than 2 years old, those with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, those who are hearing-impaired or communicating with someone who is and people who cannot wear a mask due to work-related risks.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.