PALMDALE — California fully reopened its economy on Tuesday, meaning no more physical distancing, no more capacity limits on businesses, no more purple, red, orange or yellow tiers and relaxed mask guidance.
Businesses can generally return to near-normal operations, including indoor bars and restaurants. Concerts can resume, along with full-capacity crowds at sporting events.
“It’s been a tough year for all of us, a tough 15 months for all of us — all the fear and anxiety that we’ve all had to work through,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a celebratory event at Universal Studios Hollywood. “I’m mindful of that stress still upon so many of you. I recognize the incredible burden that’s been placed on you over the course of the last year. But I want folks to know that the state has your back as we come back.”
He cautioned the continued presence of COVID-19 variants remain a threat.
“We are mindful and sober that we need to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated,” Newsom said. “And we need to courage people to be thoughtful and be judicious, mindful of these mutations, mindful of the variants all around the rest of the world, mindful that not everybody is doing as well as the state of California. And we have people traveling from all around not only the country but around the world coming to venues like this. We need to keep our guard up, we can’t let our guard down.”
Masks are still required for unvaccinated people in some indoor public settings and some businesses.
Masks for everyone will still be required at the Antelope Valley Mall.
“We are still requiring masks,” Property Marketing Manager Debby Clinkenbeard said. “We have so many entrances, it’s easier to monitor.”
However, each individual store can make their own decisions about whether their customers need to wear a mask.
One change that took effect on Tuesday allows those who are eating or drinking in the mall to do so in all common areas — not just the food court. In addition, they do not have to wear masks while consuming food or beverages.
On Thursday, the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board is set to consider revised workplace mask-wearing guidance, which would generally align with the state’s rules for the public at large. The rules would require businesses to verify workers’ vaccination status and make masks available to unvaccinated workers, who must wear face coverings in the workplace. Vaccinated workers would not be required to wear masks in the workplace under the proposed rules.
If the Board approves the rules Thursday, Newsom said he is prepared to issue an executive order implementing them immediately. Normally, the Board’s decision would have to be reviewed by state attorneys and wouldn’t take effect until the end of the month. The governor’s executive order would close that “gap” and immediately implement the rules later this week.
Antelope Valley College administrators and city officials in Palmdale are waiting to hear from the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board for final directions in the workplace.
The City of Lancaster has had a mask ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn in public in place since April 3, 2020. Ordinance No. 1078, which authorizes the city to enforce the mandatory public use of masks and makes any violation of the mask requirement a misdemeanor, is still in effect.
It is anticipated that the City Council will discuss and take action regarding the ordinance at its next meeting this Tuesday. For information about Lancaster City Council meetings visit www.cityoflancaster.org/meetings
The COVID-19 vaccination centers operated at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds by Kaiser Permanente and High Desert Medical Group, in partnership with the City of Lancaster, are expected to remain open through July depending on demand.
“If demand continues to go down, then our partners will continue providing vaccines at their regular clinics instead of at the fairgrounds,” a Lancaster City official said.
As of Tuesday, 58,393 people, or 47% of the population in Lancaster and 65,912 people, or 54%, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
California’s mask-wearing guidance for the general public aligns largely with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. The guidance allows fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most situations. But they are still required in certain settings for all people, regardless of vaccination status, to include:
• On public transit, including airplanes, ships, trains, buses, taxis and ride-hailing vehicles and in transportation hubs such as airports, bus terminals, train stations, seaports, marinas and subway stations;
• Indoors at K-12 schools, childcare facilities and other youth settings;
• Healthcare settings, including long-term care facilities;
• State and local correctional facilities and detention centers; and
• Homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers.
Masks are still required for unvaccinated people in indoor public settings and businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, theaters, movie theaters, family entertainment centers and government offices serving the public.
Business and event-venue operators can choose how to enforce those rules. According to the state, they have three options:
• Provide information to all patrons, guests and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry.
• Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.
• Require all patrons to wear masks.
No person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a business.
City News Service contributed to this report.