Newsom: Restrictions to be lifted ‘sooner than later’
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the state plans to lift the existing mask mandate June 15, which he explained would allow residents to roam maskless in almost all circumstances.
In an interview with Fox 11 (KTTV-TV in Los Angeles), Gov. Newsom said California is tracking a 1% COVID-19 positivity rate, putting the state on pace to reach the governor’s goal of dissolving the tier system by June 15. Without the restrictions, the governor said reality will look “a lot more like the world we entered into before the pandemic.”
“We’re not wearing face coverings,” Gov. Newsom said while describing the state without mask mandates. “We’re not restricted in any way, shape or form from doing the old things that we used to do, save for huge, large-scale indoor convention events like that, where we use our common sense.”
Gov. Newsom added that masks would only be required in “massive, large-scale settings” where many people from not just around the country, but around the world, are gathering.
“We’ll make guidance recommendations, but no mandates and no mandates and restrictions for businesses large and small,” Gov. Newsom said.
However, during a press conference later on Wednesday, the governor clarified his previous statements about masking. He slightly backtracked on his original remarks, saying that mask mandates for all outdoor activities would be eliminated by June 15, but that existing mask guidance would likely remain in place for indoor activities.
“For indoor activities, we will still likely have some mask guidelines and mandates, but we hope sooner than later that those will be lifted as well,” Gov. Newsom said. “But the bottom line is, we’ll go back to the most broad strokes, semblances of normalcy if we continue down this path in the next five weeks. I’m confident with all the good work that’s been done all throughout this state that we’ll reach those goals.”
In response to the governor’s announcement, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department said health officials will continue to follow state guidance pertaining to face coverings and develop guidelines based upon the spread of the disease in the region.
“Counties are required to follow the state guidance on safety measures related to COVID-19,” the Public Health Department told the News-Press in a statement. “While counties are permitted to be stricter, they may not be more lenient. Santa Barbara County will continue to follow the state guidance as well as evaluating the status of the spread of COVID in the community to determine safety of wearing masks should this mandate be lifted.”
The statement continued, “There is no way to make the determination of the status on June 15 at this time, though it is our hope that the community will continue to follow all safety measures, get vaccinated and continue with testing in order to move us to a position in which guidelines on mask wearing can be lessened.”