Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
With COVID Tamed, It's a 'Grand Reopening' in California
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 3 years ago on
June 15, 2021

Share

SAN FRANCISCO — California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic.

At the stroke of midnight, California lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions and ushered in what has been billed as the state’s “Grand Reopening.”

As of today, there are no more state rules on social distancing, and no more limits on capacity at restaurants, bars, supermarkets, gyms, stadiums or anywhere else.

And masks — one of the most symbolic and fraught symbols of the pandemic — are no longer be mandated for vaccinated people in most settings, though businesses and counties can still require them.

California’s ‘Grand Reopening’

Just in time for summer, California wants to send the message that life in the Golden State is getting much closer to normal. The economy is fully reopen for the first time in 15 months and people can largely return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.

Fans can cheer mask-less at Dodgers and Giants baseball games. Disneyland is throwing its doors open to all tourists after allowing just California residents since it opened in April. People can pack indoor bars and nightclubs again.

“With all due respect, eat your heart out, the rest of the United States. There is no state in America that has more,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said on the eve of the reopening. “The state is not just poised to recover, it’s poised to come roaring back.”

To mark the reopening, Newsom will make a few lucky residents millionaires. In a made-for-TV main event, the governor will draw 10 names of residents who have received at least one vaccine dose and award each one $1.5 million.

The drawing is the grand finale to the nation’s largest vaccine incentive, $116 million in COVID-19 lottery jackpots and cash card giveaways. Winners can collect the money once they’re fully vaccinated.

Tourism was among the hardest hit industries during the pandemic and now wants to make up for lost time.

“In terms of our incredible cities, our iconic attractions, the industry is ready to roll out the red carpet to visitors in California, around the nation and even the world,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California.

Infection Rates Drop From Highest to Now Below 1%

Pandemic highs and lows saw California go from being a success story to the U.S. epicenter of the virus. As the first in the country to impose a statewide shutdown in March 2020, California’s businesses were just starting to reopen last June when cases started rising and restrictions were imposed again.

By summer’s end, a darker reality set in as California hurtled toward a deadly winter surge. Shutdowns, curfews and harrowing images from overwhelmed hospitals became the norm as the state set new records almost daily for infection rates and staggering death tolls.

More people tested positive for the virus in California (3.8 million and counting) and more people died (63,000 plus) than anywhere else in the country, although the nation’s most populous state had a lower per capita death rate than most others.

California now has one of the lowest rates of infection in the country, below 1%. That dramatic drop in infections combined with an increasing number of vaccinated residents — over 70% of adults have had at least one dose — led Newsom to announce in April that most COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted June 15.

Feelings of Anticipation Replace Anxiety and Frustration

The reopening doesn’t necessarily mean people will immediately flock to places and events they once packed, or that businesses will opt to return to full capacity immediately. But a palpable feeling of anticipation has replaced the anxiety, frustration and sadness that ushered in summer 2020.

For Angie Barragan, who was born in Los Angeles and returned for a visit last week from her home in Las Vegas, so many once-normal things feel new, awkward and amazing: strolling in public without a mask, socializing for the first time in ages.

“It’s kind of learning how to be a human again,” she said as she shopped and strolled on the city’s historic Olvera Street, a restored Mexican marketplace once clogged with tourists. “But it’s great to be among people.”

The reopening doesn’t mean the pandemic is over, Newsom has repeatedly stressed as an explanation for retaining his statewide emergency declaration.

Some public health measures will stay for “mega events.” People attending indoor concerts, sporting events or other large gatherings for more than 5,000 people will have to show proof that they are vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test. Attendees at outdoor events with more than 10,000 people are “strongly encouraged” to do the same.

Will ‘Honor System’ Will Work?

Fully vaccinated people will no longer be required to wear masks, including indoors, in most places. Those who are unvaccinated are expected to wear masks, but that won’t be enforced. Businesses have three choices: operate on an honor system; require customers to show proof of vaccination, or they can still require everyone to wear a mask.

Many question if the honor system will work, including the California Nurses Association, which said the new rules essentially call on businesses and essential workers to be the vaccination police.

“This is not a sound public health strategy,” said Sandy Rending, a president of the association, which is calling on residents to keep their masks on indoors and in crowds.

For now, masks will still be required in places like public transit, airports, health care and indoor school classes.

Confusion Over Ever-Changing Mask Mandates

Some business owners have complained that ever-shifting mask rules are confounding, while heartily applauding the reopening.

“We’re excited — and a little confused,” said Tom La Torre, owner of Sabella & La Torre Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, a tourist haven that transformed into a ghost town during the pandemic.

Until now, his restaurant was limited to 50% capacity. “That will be nice to fill the place up. However, we are still confused about the mask mandate.”

It’s also unclear if people will come.

For Rita Torres, a retired university administrator in Oakland, the last 15 months were “mind boggling.” She has missed dancing at live concerts and hugging her girlfriends at weekly happy hour outings. She’s embraced having groceries delivered, a practice she once considered frivolous. Tuesday’s reopening is, for her, just another day. She will venture out cautiously.

“Deep down I want to rejoice,” she said, but she’s going to take it slow. “Because it’s kind of like, is it too soon? Will we be sorry?”

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

What Have We Liberals Done to the West Coast?

DON'T MISS

Caitlin Clark Overcomes Another Physical Game, Scores 23 to Lead Fever Past Sky

DON'T MISS

Giants Drop Angels as Soler’s 3-Run HR Keys a 9-Run Inning

DON'T MISS

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to Issue Over 175,000 Marijuana Pardons

DON'T MISS

Ohtani Has Second Two-Homer Game of Season, Betts Breaks Hand as Dodgers Beat Royals

DON'T MISS

US: Michigan, CUNY Failed to Assess Hostile Environment from Israel-Hamas War Protests

DON'T MISS

Putin to Visit North Korea Amid Concerns Over Military Cooperation

DON'T MISS

Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet After Key Partner Exits, Say Israeli Officials

DON'T MISS

The Chilling Reason You May Never See the New Trump Movie

DON'T MISS

California Ranks Bottom Third in Overall Child Well-Being, Per New Report

UP NEXT

Caitlin Clark Overcomes Another Physical Game, Scores 23 to Lead Fever Past Sky

UP NEXT

Giants Drop Angels as Soler’s 3-Run HR Keys a 9-Run Inning

UP NEXT

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to Issue Over 175,000 Marijuana Pardons

UP NEXT

Ohtani Has Second Two-Homer Game of Season, Betts Breaks Hand as Dodgers Beat Royals

UP NEXT

US: Michigan, CUNY Failed to Assess Hostile Environment from Israel-Hamas War Protests

UP NEXT

Putin to Visit North Korea Amid Concerns Over Military Cooperation

UP NEXT

Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet After Key Partner Exits, Say Israeli Officials

UP NEXT

The Chilling Reason You May Never See the New Trump Movie

UP NEXT

California Ranks Bottom Third in Overall Child Well-Being, Per New Report

UP NEXT

Tempted to Try a No-Buy Year? Here Are Tips From People Doing It

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to Issue Over 175,000 Marijuana Pardons

42 mins ago

Ohtani Has Second Two-Homer Game of Season, Betts Breaks Hand as Dodgers Beat Royals

51 mins ago

US: Michigan, CUNY Failed to Assess Hostile Environment from Israel-Hamas War Protests

51 mins ago

Putin to Visit North Korea Amid Concerns Over Military Cooperation

1 hour ago

Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet After Key Partner Exits, Say Israeli Officials

1 hour ago

The Chilling Reason You May Never See the New Trump Movie

1 day ago

California Ranks Bottom Third in Overall Child Well-Being, Per New Report

1 day ago

Tempted to Try a No-Buy Year? Here Are Tips From People Doing It

1 day ago

‘Wouldn’t Be Where I Am Today:’ California’s Small Business Owners Fight to Save State Aid

1 day ago

Lauryn Hill, Tyla and More Will Perform at the 2024 BET Awards. Here’s What to Know About the Show

2 days ago

What Have We Liberals Done to the West Coast?

Opinion by Nicholas Kristof on June 15, 2024. PORTLAND, Ore. — As Democrats make their case to voters around the country this fall, one chal...

9 mins ago

9 mins ago

What Have We Liberals Done to the West Coast?

21 mins ago

Caitlin Clark Overcomes Another Physical Game, Scores 23 to Lead Fever Past Sky

40 mins ago

Giants Drop Angels as Soler’s 3-Run HR Keys a 9-Run Inning

42 mins ago

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to Issue Over 175,000 Marijuana Pardons

51 mins ago

Ohtani Has Second Two-Homer Game of Season, Betts Breaks Hand as Dodgers Beat Royals

52 mins ago

US: Michigan, CUNY Failed to Assess Hostile Environment from Israel-Hamas War Protests

1 hour ago

Putin to Visit North Korea Amid Concerns Over Military Cooperation

1 hour ago

Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet After Key Partner Exits, Say Israeli Officials

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend