Gov. Gavin Newsom said California will effectively end its mask mandate next month when the state plans to fully reopen after more than a year of Covid-19 restrictions.
In an on-camera interview with KTTV Los Angeles reporter Elex Michaelson posted on Twitter, the governor was asked, “Are we looking at masks after June 15?”
“No. Only in those settings that are indoor — only in those massively large settings where people around the world, not just around the country, are convening, and when people are mixing in real dense spaces,” Newsom replied. “Otherwise, we’ll make guidance recommendations, but no mandates and no restrictions on businesses large and small.”
California currently requires the use of masks in indoor settings outside of one’s home, including on public transportation, regardless of vaccination status. Fully vaccinated people, however, are not required to wear masks outdoors, except when attending crowded events.
Last month, state health officials announced the June 15 target date to fully reopen the state amid falling Covid-19 infection rates and low hospitalizations, shelving its color-coded tier system that dictates re-opening by county based on infection rates.
California’s mask mandate, however, would remain in place at least “in the short run,” Newsom said at the time.
Spokespersons for the governor’s office and California Department of Public Health did not respond to CNN requests for comment Wednesday.
About 52% of California’s population has had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including 89% of those over age 65, according to CDC data. After a startling outbreak in December and January, the state has had a 7-day average of less than 2,000 new daily coronavirus cases for the past two weeks.
Current CDC guidance is that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors, except in large gatherings, but should continue to wear masks inside. The guidance says unvaccinated people should wear masks in almost all situations where other unvaccinated people may be present.
However, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said Sunday he thinks the CDC has been too cautious in continuing restrictions on vaccinated people, who are far less likely to get infected, spread the virus or require hospitalization.
“It’s time for the CDC to start embracing this kind of bifurcated strategy and perhaps giving the unvaccinated a hint of what life can be like if they become vaccinated,” he said.