What to know about California’s COVID mask rules after June 15

01_A salesperson gives directions to a shopper amid the COVID-19 pandemic on The Promenade Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Santa Monica.

01_A salesperson gives directions to a shopper amid the COVID-19 pandemic on The Promenade Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Santa Monica.

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California’s mask guidelines will loosen but not disappear entirely on Tuesday, the same day capacity limits, social distancing requirements and most COVID-19 restrictions on businesses are set to end.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly affirmed Wednesday that California will amend its mask requirement to align with guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on June 15, as he and Gov. Gavin Newsom had previously indicated.

Residents are considered fully vaccinated if they are at least two weeks beyond their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Here is a breakdown of where you will and will not need to wear a mask depending on your vaccination status starting Tuesday.

Fully vaccinated

Those in California who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear masks indoors except in the following settings:

Health care settings (except when the face covering must be removed for treatment).

Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.

Public transit.

Correctional facilities.

K-12 campuses and childcare settings.

Homeless shelters.

Emergency shelters and cooling centers.

Since early May, the fully vaccinated have only been required to wear masks outdoors in crowded event settings, such as concerts or sports events.

The fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear masks in crowd settings, indoor or outdoor, once California adopts the CDC recommendations.

Not fully vaccinated

California’s mask rules for those who are not fully vaccinated will be the same as they have been for almost a year: Face coverings remain mandatory in most indoor settings outside of one’s own home, and in outdoor settings when one cannot keep six feet of distance from others.

Some indoor exceptions remain. Masks aren’t required:

When in a car alone, or only with members of the same household.

When working alone in a closed room or office space.

Masks are also not required for those under age 2; those with a disability that prevents wearing a face covering; or those who are hearing impaired or communicating with someone who is hearing impaired.

One new provision is that venues hosting outdoor “mega events” — those drawing crowds of more than 10,000 people — must make masks available for all attendees, according to CDPH.

In the workplace: No change for now, update coming soon?

Currently, as per standards set in November 2020 by Cal-OSHA, workers in California must generally wear masks indoors at all times and outdoors when within six feet of others.

In early June, Cal-OSHA’s standards board proposed an update that would allow fully vaccinated workers to take off their masks only when everyone else around them was also fully vaccinated.

This represented a loosening, but it didn’t align with either the CDC guidance or incoming CDPH guidance on mask use.

In a special meeting last Wednesday, the board withdrew the proposed update and said they will consider a different update that better fits state and federal guidance at their next meeting this coming Thursday, June 17.

Any update the board votes to approve in this week’s meeting wouldn’t go into effect until June 28 due to the administrative timeline.

However, Newsom announced Monday that he will issue an executive order Thursday codifying Cal-OSHA’s latest proposed guidelines, which would allow fully vaccinated workers to forgo masks and social distancing in the workplace, provided that the Cal-OSHA safety board votes to approve the new standards as expected that day. The order would cover the administrative gap from June 17 to June 28.

How will businesses, events verify vaccination status?

It appears that how businesses and venues go about determining who is and isn’t vaccinated will largely be up to the individual establishment.

New CDPH guidance states: “In settings where masks are required only for unvaccinated individuals, businesses, venue operators or hosts may choose to:

Provide information to all patrons, guests and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry.

Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.

Require all patrons to wear masks.

Businesses can either keep masks mandatory, ask to see a vaccination card or some other documentation showing vaccination, or essentially just use the honor system.

“If companies decide it’s in their best interests to require masking they will have that option,” the state health department said in a statement.

That means, for example, that sports venues, concert arenas and movie theaters can choose to require the wearing of a mask, but it will not be mandated by the state.

While California as a whole isn’t adopting a vaccine passport system, the state will mandate the presentation of proof of vaccination for people attending certain “mega events,” defined as events with more than 5,000 people that are indoors or more than 10,000 people that are outdoors.

“Indoor mega event attendees will be required to confirm proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 status to attend. Outdoor mega event attendees will be strongly encouraged to do so,” according to a department statement.

Will counties set stricter mask rules?

California counties’ health offices are permitted to impose more stringent local rules on mask use if they choose to. Find the state’s guidance for face coverings here.

Counties across the Sacramento region — Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Placer and the Yuba-Sutter bi-county region — have indicated that they will follow the state’s lead on the June 15 reopening, including with respect to masks.

Can I still wear a mask if I want to?

Yes. Vaccinated residents may continue to wear face coverings in settings where they are not mandatory if they choose to do so.

“No person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a business,” the June 15 mask guidance from CDPH says.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.