California plans to lift most pandemic restrictions June 15

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California plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses and workplaces June 15. "We are seeing a bright light at the end of the tunnel".

Meanwhile, in the Bay Area, eight out of nine counties are now in the "Orange" tier - Sonoma, Napa, and Contra Costa counties were promoted on Tuesday, and now only Solano County remains in the "Red", along with neighboring counties like Sacramento and San Joaquin.

After more than a year of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced Tuesday that California will officially fully reopen for business beginning June 15th, however the state's mask mandate will remain in place.

The reopening date could change based on case rates, hospitalizations and vaccine efficacy, officials said. California has now administered over 20 million doses.

Events at stadiums and other large venues will be permitted, though conventions with groups larger than 5,000 will still require either proof of vaccines or testing until October 1, state Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said. Dr. Ghaly also added that the state is administering more than 2 million doses every week.

Newsom said he intends to keep the face-covering mandate in place, and warned that the full reopening could be postponed if the public doesn't follow that safety practice.

Kevin Faulconer, a former San Diego mayor and Republican who is hoping to replace Newsom, said in a statement that "it took millions of Californians signing a recall petition for him to finally begin reopening our state".

"The Blueprint as it's devised now will no longer be in effect as of June 15", Ghaly said, referring to the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy website and color-tiering system. "We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic".

Gov. Gavin Newsom also struck a positive tone in the announcement Tuesday, but cautioned that residents still had to remain cautious.

While the number of hospitalizations is low across the state - with 20 patients now hospitalized with COVID-19 in San Francisco, for example - Ghaly said there is a race between vaccines and variants, and urged the public to take public health precautions like wearing a mask and signing up for the vaccine once eligible.

The move, confirmed with the release of the state's latest tier report, will squeeze out a little more indoor operating space for restaurants, gyms, outdoor entertainment venues, amusement parks and a host of other businesses and organizations, allowing them to exceed the thin limits that govern the red tier where the region sat for three straight weeks. Newsom said there is an expectation that students will return to in-person learning, but stopped short of calling it a requirement.

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