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City, State Scrap Majority of Restrictions After 15 Months

Published on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 | 3:41 pm
 

The vast majority of Pasadena’s COVID-19 restrictions were lifted Tuesday when Gov. Gavin Newsom removed most of the state restrictions, but Newsom warned the virus is still active, and mask-wearing will continue to be a reality for non-vaccinated residents, at businesses that opt to require them and for people who simply feel safer wearing them.

Effective at 12:01 a.m., the state officially scrapped its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the four-tier, color-coded roadmap of restrictions on economic activity and public gatherings based on individual counties’ COVID case rates and testing-positivity rates.

With the blueprint gone, the state officially lifted all physical- distancing requirements and capacity restrictions at businesses and public gatherings. The result is that businesses can generally return to near-normal operations, including indoor bars and restaurants. Concerts can resume, along with full-capacity crowds at sporting events.

The Pasadena Public Health Department formally announced Monday that it was revising its own local public health order to mirror that of the state, which Los Angeles County did last week.

“The Pasadena Health Order issued on June 14 rescinds all other previous orders of the Health Officer except requirements for COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine,” city officials said in a written statement.

Pasadena Unified School District pandemic protocols remained in place, officials said.

“We are so thankful to Californians for getting vaccinated so that we can now reopen more broadly,” said Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Ying-Ying Goh.

“These orders maintain a few focused public health requirements that address the risk posed by large groups of people not yet eligible for vaccine and by potential variants, given that some regions across the world continue to experience high levels of transmission,” Goh said.

“We continue to urge the community to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19 illness that is still a real risk, especially as people engage in more activities and travel,” she said.

Newsom said it’s been a tough 15 months for everyone in the state.

“All the fear and anxiety that we’ve all had to work through,” 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.

“… We are here because of your hard work,” he said. “We’re here because of your resilience. We’re here because of 40 million Californians that met … many different moments over the course of the last 15 months. This was the first state to initiate a stay at home order. This was a state that was guided by science, by data, by facts, by observed evidence, not ideology. As a consequence, the state of California has one of the lowest case rates in the United States of America, one of the lowest positivity rates in the United States of America, and proudly, among the highest vaccination rates in the United States of America.”

Despite most restrictions being lifted, mask-wearing still remains required in certain circumstances, particularly for people who are not vaccinated.

Pasadena, and the state’s, mask-wearing guidance for the general public aligns largely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. The guidance allows fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most situations. But they are still be required in certain settings for all people, regardless of vaccination status:

— on public transit, including airplanes, ships, trains, buses, taxis and ride-hailing vehicles, and in transportation hubs such as airports, but terminals, train stations, seaports, marinas and subway stations;
— indoors at K-12 schools, child-care facilities and other youth settings;
— healthcare settings, including long-term care facilities;
— at state and local correctional facilities and detention centers; and
— at 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:

— businesses and venues can publicly post rules regarding mask- wearing and allow customers and visitors to “self-attest” that they are vaccinated, meaning if someone enters the business without a mask they are attesting to being vaccinated;
— they can “implement a vaccine-verification system to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask”; or
— they can simply require all patrons to wear a mask.

Newsom on Monday recognized the issues with “self-attestation,” which essentially is an honor system, but said people “we hope will be honest about that.” He stressed that businesses can continue to mandate that all customers wear masks.

On Tuesday, the governor said the continued presence of COVID-19 variants remains a threat.

“We are mindful and sober that we need to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated,” Newsom said at the Universal Studios event. “And we need to encourage 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.”

For at least a couple more days, mask-wearing will remain mandatory for workers in indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. 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. Newsom’s executive order would close that “gap” and immediately implement the rules later this week.

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