California will reopen on June 15 without any capacity limits or physical distancing requirements for businesses or events, the state's Health and Human Services secretary said Friday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom last month announced the expected June 15 reopening date, which state officials on Friday confirmed as COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations continue to drop and the number of people vaccinated continues to increase.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly on a call with reporters Friday said COVID-related hospitalizations are down to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic, while vaccines are available with no wait throughout the state for everyone ages 12 and up.
As a result, California will end its tiered system of restrictions for counties as it lifts the capacity and distancing limits on June 15.
"Those requirements of the past are no longer needed for the foreseeable future," Ghaly said.
He said the state will be laying out recommendations and guidelines for vaccine verifications for businesses but will not be creating any sort of vaccine passport system.
Dee Dee Myers, a senior advisor to Newsom, said confirming the June 15 reopening date is "a really important milestone as we move forward" and "will allow people to really plan in detail" for their businesses or events in the coming weeks and months.
"We're still in the middle of that transition, and not sure what the next normal is going to look like," Myers said.
Ghaly said a priority will be working with local school districts to make sure K-12 schools are fully reopening for the new school year, and said while vaccines were recently made available for people as young as 12, vaccine eligibility for children ages 2-11 might not happen until the late summer or early fall.
As California reopens fully, public health officials anticipate that COVID-19 cases will rise, but Ghaly said he doesn't think it will have a significant impact on the state's hospital systems given current levels of vaccination, and there won't be any new metrics counties will need to reach to stay out of further capacity or social distancing restrictions.