California will retire its color-coded tiered reopening system and fully reopen its economy on June 15, provided that conditions in the state continue to improve, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday.
Sectors included in the state’s reopening plan will be allowed to return to usual operations with “common-sense” public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and vaccinations. The state does not have plans to lift its mask mandate.
“It is incumbent upon all of us to not announce, ‘mission accomplished,’ not put down our guard, but to continue that vigilance that got us where we are today,” Newsom said. “In America, we are seeing a bright light at the end of the tunnel.”
The date for a return to “business as usual” is welcome news for those aching to get back to pre-pandemic normalcy, though the plan is contingent on conditions in the state continuing to improve.
For the state to fully reopen its economy, vaccine supply must be sufficient for Californians 16 and older, and hospitalization rates must be stable and low. Though Newsom declined to offer numerical criteria for those two indicators, vaccination and case rates in the state are presently encouraging.
California has administered more than 20 million doses to date, and will expand vaccine eligibility to those 16 and over on April 15. In San Francisco, over 50 percent of the 16-and-older population has been vaccinated.
It will take some time for those in the April 15 expansion to get vaccinated, Newsom warned: “It’s going to extend perhaps over a month until we have the available supply. … On April 15, we don’t anticipate a substantial increase in available supply beyond what we are receiving this week,” he said.
Cases and hospitalizations are also declining in the state. Only 1,367 new cases were reported Tuesday, a steep decline from winter-surge highs that climbed to upwards of 40,000 cases a day. The state’s 14-day average for hospitalizations has also dropped steeply, falling from about 22,000 at the peak of the surge to under 3,000 over the last two weeks.
The set date for reopening is also welcome news for small business owners in the Mission, who have been hit hard by the pandemic, though a return to pre-pandemic business levels will likely take longer as residents readjust.
Carlos Martinez, a manager at Cafe La Taza, a restaurant on Mission and 21st streets, was excited to hear the news. He didn’t expect that a full reopening would arrive so soon. “April, May, June,” he ticked off on his fingers, counting the months that the cafe has to prepare for increased business come June 15.
“It’s definitely a readjustment; it will take some time,” he cautioned. “Everyone has been quarantined for a full year now.”
But the news is a good indication that things are getting better in the city.“Having people out more is going to help the neighborhood,” he said.