Wednesday, May 12, 2021

California Mask Mandate Likely to End Soon

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2021 at 1:46 PM

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If you’re looking for a sign that California is approaching the end of the pandemic, here it is: The state may soon ease workplace rules that require employees to wear face masks and physically distance from each other.

Next week, California’s workplace safety agency is set to consider proposed changes to its emergency coronavirus standards adopted in November, the Sacramento Bee reports. The suggested revisions would on Aug. 1 lift a mandate requiring most workers to maintain six feet of distance at all times. They would also permit fully vaccinated workers without COVID symptoms to forgo masks outdoors as well as indoors, as long as everyone else in the room is also fully vaccinated and doesn’t have symptoms.

But it also appears the changes could come even sooner — and be more widespread. Gov. Gavin Newsom told Fox LA’s Elex Michaelson on Tuesday that he envisions eliminating California’s mask mandate by June 15, the state’s target date for a full reopening.

  • Newsom: “Only in those massively large (indoor) settings where people from around the world … are convening and where people are mixing in real dense spaces” would masks be required. “Otherwise … no mandates in businesses large and small.”

Other signs that California could soon return to pre-pandemic life: The Golden State’s coronavirus positivity rate is at a record low of 1 percent, three more counties moved into less restrictive reopening tiers on Tuesday, and a swath of large counties will likely enter the loosest yellow tier next week.

Meanwhile, a vaccine safety workgroup is meeting today to decide whether to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for Californians ages 12-15, for whom appointments could begin Thursday. The Bay Area appears to be on the cusp of herd immunity, and Los Angeles predicts 80 percent of its residents will have received at least one shot by mid- to late-July. And in yet another bright spot, there is growing scientific consensus that existing vaccines are effective against virus variants.

Still, political challenges remain. The state’s proposed workplace rule changes, for instance, would seem to require that employees show proof of vaccination in order to go maskless. California is already incentivizing businesses to require customers show proof of vaccination, but these so-called “vaccine passports” are being met with staunch opposition in some parts of the state, such as Orange County.

This article first appeared on CalMatters Network and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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