California removes most state-wide COVID-19 restrictions

James Hess

California lifted many restrictions on masking, social distancing and capacity limits June 15. The measure follows a prolonged decrease in the rate of COVID-19 cases across the state, which has also administered more vaccines than any other in America.  

The county-based tier system has been transformed into one state-wide mandate. Los Angeles County, which most recently operated under the least restrictive yellow tier, will have many COVID-19 policies relaxed. People who are fully vaccinated may stop wearing facemasks and social distancing in most outdoor situations, and businesses will individually decide their precautions, according to the Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County Department of Health Director Barbara Ferrer said residents should feel optimistic after more than a year of uncertainty. 

“After 16 months of enormous upheaval and loss, we can now move forward with a genuine sense of hope,” Ferrer said in a news release. “We can and should feel joy while recognizing and honoring the immense collective effort that brought us to this point where we can fully reopen.” 

The new mandate also lifts many economic restrictions. All indoor businesses will reopen at full capacity, and larger indoor venues, defined by state officials as those which hold 5,000 people or more, will require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of attending an event. Outdoor businesses will operate under the same guidelines, though vaccination is only strongly recommended for larger gatherings. 

As an incoming 10th grade student at the Upper School, Bill Coleman ’24 said the transition between campuses will be easier with a more conventional day-to-day life with in-person classes. 

“Our reopening will be great for students transitioning to the Upper School, because changing campuses on Zoom is much harder than in-person school,” Coleman said. “It’ll be great to get the feel for a new campus when you’re actually there.”

Cross country and track and field athlete Oliver Green ’22 said the mandate will feel more normal as time goes on. 

“As things have been opening up, I’ve felt much better about running maskless in outside places, especially trails that can sometimes get crowded,” Green said. “Right now, I may still be a little wary of eating inside places, but as things get back to normal and open up I’ll become more and more comfortable.”