California to drop social distancing requirements in June

California

FILE – In this Thursday, May 13, 2021, file photo, a posted sign thanks visitors for wearing masks in Santa Monica, Calif. California’s top health official says the state will no longer require social distancing and will allow full capacity for businesses when the state reopens on June 15. State health director Dr. Mark Ghaly said Friday, May 21, that the state envisions loosening many of its rules in mid-June as coronavirus cases continue to fall and vaccine rates continue to rise. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s top health official said Friday that the state no longer will require social distancing and will allow full capacity for businesses when the state reopens on June 15.

State health director Dr. Mark Ghaly said that dramatically lower virus cases and increasing vaccinations mean it’s safe for the state to remove nearly all restrictions next month.

“We will continue to have some masking,” but in conformance with national guidelines, Ghaly said. California’s workforce regulators are separately developing safety rules that will continue to apply to employers, he noted.

The state will still recommend that organizers of outdoor events with more than 10,000 people require that attendees provide verification that they have been vaccinated or have tested negative for the coronavirus. Those who can’t or don’t provide the verification should be encouraged to wear masks, Ghaly said.

The state will require vaccine verification or negative test results for indoor events with more than 5,000 attendees, but Ghaly said that can be “by self-attestation” with details to come from health officials on how that process will work.

He said California plans to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on wearing masks and traveling domestically and overseas.

That means no more discouraging travel unless there are certain countries where travel is not advised, and no more voluntary quarantines when people return to California.

California was the first state to issue a statewide shutdown as the virus emerged in March 2020 and at the start of 2021 it was the nation’s epicenter for the disease. Nearly 63,000 people have died from the virus in California, the most in any state in the nation.

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