Californians fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can go mask-free in most indoor settings starting June 15 — which also is the target date for reopening the state’s economy, officials announced Monday.
Next month’s change will bring the state into alignment with recently released guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal health officials said last week that available evidence demonstrated it was safe for fully vaccinated people to go without masks in most places, whether outdoors or inside.
That was only a recommendation, though, and the final call was largely left to state and local governments — one exception being public transportation, such as trains, buses and airplanes, and at airports and other transit hubs.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, said state officials were opting to wait a bit before implementing the new guidelines to give residents more time to receive their vaccine shots and businesses and workers time to prepare for the change.
“It’s in no way saying that the science or the direction by the CDC is wrong or there’s a challenge to it,” he said during a briefing Monday. “It’s really just giving ourselves across the state some additional time to have it implemented with a high degree of integrity, with a continued focus on protecting the public.”
It remains unclear how California will ensure unvaccinated individuals keep their masks on, though. And enforcement is another open question.
When it comes to the statewide mask mandate, many law enforcement agencies have favored a more educational approach, with some altogether dismissing the concept of citing or arresting scofflaws.
“We do plan to continue to work with business sectors, employers throughout the state on exactly how this can be done to ensure that those without masks are vaccinated and making sure that we continue to provide a high degree of protection to Californians,” Ghaly said.
California’s existing rules, last updated May 3, generally require masks to be worn in indoor settings that are outside one’s home, with exceptions, such as when it’s a nonworkplace setting and everyone there is vaccinated, or when only members of one unvaccinated household are present and all have a low risk of severe complications should they get COVID-19.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose.
Unvaccinated people must also wear masks outdoors at any time they can’t maintain six feet of distance from others, and fully vaccinated people need to wear masks in crowded outdoor settings, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals and sports events.
Monday’s announcement, however, doesn’t mean June 15 will mark the end of all masking. Under federal guidance, unvaccinated or partly vaccinated people are still asked to wear masks in almost all indoor settings and at most outdoor venues when interacting with people from outside their household who may not be vaccinated.
Read full story on latimes