California will fully reopen its economy on June 15 if the vaccine supply remains "sufficient" and hospitalization rates are "stable and low," officials announced on Tuesday.
The mask mandate will still remain in place for the foreseeable future, but California will move away from the color-coded reopening tiers if there are enough vaccines for Californians age 16 and up and hospitalization rates remain low for those who do have COVID-19. That means restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other businesses can "return to usual operations" with "common-sense public health policies in place, such as required masking, testing and with vaccinations encouraged," according to state officials. Large indoor events, such as conventions, will also be allowed to resume with testing or vaccination requirements.
"With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California's economy," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Tuesday. "We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here -- wearing masks and getting vaccinated -- but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter."
There would also be no restrictions for students to return to in-person classes by June 15, though schools would not be required to reopen for in-person learning by the state, Newsom said at a press conference.
"This is a big day in terms of the pandemic and the journey that we've been on," Newsom said.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said if there was a "concerning rise" in hospitalizations, the state would take "necessary precaution." But he said that if the June 15 date holds up, the entire state would be allowed to reopen.
"We are at the stage where we're ready to consider the next aspect of our pandemic response," Ghaly said. "This means an end to our color-coded tiers. We can go to the movies and the beach and see family."
On Tuesday, California also hit its goal of administering 4 million COVID vaccines to the state's most vulnerable communities, state officials said. And beginning next Thursday, all Californians age 16 and up will also be eligible to receive vaccines.