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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that he planned to have the Golden State “fully reopen” by June 15.
Fully reopen does not mean that the governor will drop the mask requirement.
Newsom said in a statement that a June 15 reopening date will depend on if there is enough vaccine supply for everyone 16 and over who is interested to have one and if hospitalization rates are “stable and low.”
On April 15 all Californians 16 and older will be eligible for the vaccine.
“Everyday activities will be allowed and businesses can open with common-sense risk reduction measures, including encouraging all Californians to get vaccinated and mandating masking,” Newsom said in the news release.
Instead of the state’s previous piecemeal reopening approach, the entire state will open together.
Events at stadiums and other large venues will be permitted, though conventions with groups larger than 5,000 will still require either proof of vaccines or testing until Oct. 1, state Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said.
“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” said Newsom. “We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”
Newsom opponents thought the announcement was politically motivated. “Amazing what 2,175,000 signatures on a Recall petition will do to get things done,” Randy Economy, Newsom Recall organizer, wrote on Twitter.
A little under 1.5 million verified signatures are needed to trigger a recall, with a special election likely in the fall.
“His [Newsom’s] response to this pandemic has been nothing short of disastrous and it took millions of Californians signing a recall petition for him to finally begin reopening our state,” Kevin Faulconer, Republican gubernatorial candidate and former San Diego mayor, wrote on Twitter. “Newsom has shown that he’s only motivated by his own political survival, not doing what’s best for Californians. If he truly wanted to help families across this state, he would reopen all public schools for in-person learning now.”
School reopenings have lagged behind the rest of the country in California. As of Tuesday, 37% of elementary students had the option to return to the classroom, along with 19% of middle school students and 20% of high school students.
State data shows that California is nearing a new threshold for reopening – 4 million doses doled out in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods. That mark will loosen the daily case rate in the second least-restrictive orange tier. Counties currently have to record less than 4.0 new cases per 100,000. Once the threshold has been reached, counties will have to record less than 6.0.
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