Here’s where you do and don’t have to wear a mask in Calif. after June 15

As California prepares to drop its color-coded reopening scheme, one staple of the coronavirus pandemic is also set to vastly recede: mask wearing.
A view of a Hudson River Park with a huge crowd of people exercising despite orders by the government to stay home and practice "social distancing" amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on March 26, 2020 in New York City (Photo by John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As California prepares to drop its color-coded reopening scheme, one staple of the coronavirus pandemic is also set to vastly recede: mask wearing.

Wednesday, California public health officials issued new guidance for how Californians, businesses, and public agencies are set to handle mask-wearing policies.


Here’s what you need to know:

Not vaccinated? Mask up.

California officials mandate mask-wearing for unvaccinated individuals in all indoor public settings and outdoor settings where social distancing can’t be maintained.

But there’s a catch: California allows businesses three options on verifying vaccination status.

At minimum, they can provide information regarding state vaccine requirements and allow customers to self-attest to their status, they can mandate fully-vaccinated customers to verify their status before entering, or they can continue to mandate that all customers wear masks.

Fully-vaccinated? Here’s where you can drop the masks.

After June 15, the state’s mask mandate sheds requirements at just about every businesses you’d visit in an ordinary week: grocery stores and retailers, gyms, and other public-facing businesses.

That is, of course, unless the business uses its discretion to continue mandating mask-wearing for all customers (see above).

That decision is most likely to be taken by locally-owned business, as most national retailers and chains have shed mask requirements in states that have already removed them.

And here’s where you can’t.

According to California’s public health agency, mask-wearing would still be required while “attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.”

Masks are also required for fully-vaccinated Californians at the following indoor locales:

  • Public transit, including airplanes, trains, buses, taxis, and ride-share services. This extends to the service areas for public transit, such as airports, bus terminals and train stations.
  • Indoors at K-12 schools and childcare centers. Masks are not required during outdoor activities in these settings, and California officials note that the indoor rules, per the U.S. Centers for Disease control, may change.
  • Health care facilities, including long-term care facilities.Healthcare settings[4] (including long term care facilities[5]
  • State and local prisons and jails.
  • Homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers.

What about my workplace?

That’s still up in the air, but shifting closer to a dropping of the mask requirement.

Last week, Cal-OSHA, the state agency that regulates workplace safety, issued a rule continuing to require mask-wearing among vaccinated workers after June 15 if the entire workplace was not fully vaccinated.

The decision, unsurprisingly, angered wide swaths of California’s economic sectors, as fully-vaccinated customers of public-facing workplaces would not have to wear masks moving forward.

Wednesday, the Cal-OSHA board reversed itself, saying they will adopt rules to more closely conform with the prevailing view of California’s public health department.

In the same move, the board withdrew the strict mask-wearing rule adopted last week.

OSHA board chairman Dave Thomas said the flip in direction was “so that it matches up with the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, so that we’re all on the same page. That’s what this is about, so we’re not out of step with everybody else.”

Despite the removal of the strict mask rules in the workplace, nothing was offered to clarify what the Cal-OSHA board will adopt in its meeting next week.

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