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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Miller, MD

California COVID Restrictions End with a Few Exceptions

This week, California ended much of its COVID related restrictions bringing the state in line with the recommendations from the CDC. This is certainly a time to celebrate the success we have had in reducing the pandemic in California through these measures as well as the success in getting large numbers of the population vaccinated. However, at the same time, we should keep in mind that the pandemic is not over and that it is still going unchecked in most parts of the world due to significant limitations on vaccine availability. As a result, new variants are still developing and we may need to modify our vaccines as a result. Lastly, we may see another surge this winter and that might require reinstating some of the old restrictions. With that said, let’s look at the new changes.

Perhaps the biggest change is the removal of all capacity restrictions on businesses including restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, gyms and other entertainment venues.

Fully vaccinated persons will no longer be required to wear masks in most public settings and will not be required to social distance. Unvaccinated persons will still be required to wear a mask in indoor public settings. Fully vaccinated is defined as being at least two weeks out from getting the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

There are some important exceptions to the above. All persons, regardless of vaccination status, will still be required to wear a mask in hospitals, schools, day care, airports, airplanes, trains, buses and bus/train stations.

While the new rules remove restrictions on mask wearing and capacity limits, businesses still have the right to require masks of everyone if they choose. Businesses also have the right to require proof of vaccination as a means of entry without a mask. It is likely that this will further encourage the implementation of so called digital vaccination passports, a topic that was covered in a previous Miller Report.

Of course, anyone who is vaccinated may still wear a mask if they so choose. Mask wearing remains the most highly effective means of avoiding COVID and other respiratory viruses such as influenza.

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