On April 6, California state officials said that the state, which was the first to impose a lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, plans to fully reopen businesses and activities from June 15, 2021.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said lowered infection rates and hospitalizations and increasing vaccinations are the reason this is possible. However, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state’s mask mandate is here to stay at least “in the short run.” He added, “Looking 10 weeks out, our expectation is … everybody that would want the vaccine will have the opportunity to receive a vaccine.”
Although some health experts asked states to delay reopening so that more people can get vaccinated and limit the spread of the more contagious COVID-19 variants, California’s authorities went ahead with the announcement. The experts also believe the variants are contributing to rising cases in parts of the country. On April 5, Dr. Michael Osterholm, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota director, said the vaccines are effective against the variants. However, the US may not be able to administer vaccines fast enough to avoid another surge.
While cases in California have fallen sharply from the winter, in the past weeks, they’ve been rising again. Over the last week, the state had an average of more than 2,700 new cases—roughly the same average from two weeks ago, but much less than a peak average of approximately 46,000 new daily cases on January 21.
Epidemiologist and CNN medical analyst Dr. Seema Yasmin said California would wait for more than two months before fully reopening, and any unfavorable circumstances may alter the state’s plans. Ghaly also stated the date could change. About this, he said, “We’re looking at the supply and availability of vaccines. If the supply isn’t there, we may make some tweaks to that June 15 date.”
California doesn’t plan to impose a vaccine passport plan system. However, some events, such as large conventions with 5,000 or more people, must confirm that all attendees are either tested or vaccinated. This restriction will be in effect till October 1.