Mask Mandate lifted in California as the state begins to ‘roar back’ and lift most COVID-19 restrictions


Governor Newsom ushers in state’s reopening at Universal Studios Hollywood, holds $15 million Vax for the Win grand prize drawing on Tuesday, June 14, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.

By Ryan Bough

After 15 long months, California is back. On June 15, most COVID-19 restrictions were lifted for vaccinated individuals including the mask mandate. California now joins the majority of the United States that has already been reopened.

California Governor Gavin Newsom delivered a statement at Universal Studios Hollywood on Tuesday to celebrate the milestone and announce the winners of the state’s vaccine lottery.

“Today is a day to celebrate, a day to reconnect with strangers, loved ones, family members; give people hugs,” Newsom said. “As we look ahead to better days, we will continue to look out for one another, redoubling our support to those hit hardest by the pandemic and making unprecedented investments to address California’s most persistent challenges, so that the entire state comes roaring back together.”

California was one of the first states to be put into a COVID-19 lockdown and enacted some of the strictest measures in-order to stop the spread of COVID-19. However California quickly found itself becoming the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. At the peak of the pandemic California saw tens of thousands of positive cases and hundreds of deaths a day.

As of June 15, California had 3,697,927 total positive cases which resulted in 62,515 deaths. Since March 11, 2020, Ventura County has reported 81,572 total COVID-19 cases.

Mask mandates and social distancing weren’t the only things to go away, the states colored reopening tier system has been removed. Just weeks before the removal, Ventura County made it to the yellow tier, which is the least restrictive tier.

Ventura County CEO Mike Powers spoke about how entering the yellow tier effected Ventura County combined with the new lifted restrictions.

“Getting to yellow I think it really helped our community go into this reopening phase with a lot of momentum and you can see it happening and it’s so exciting for our business community and our community as a whole,” Powers said.

Powers also spoke about helping the business community get back on its feet after nearly being crippled by the pandemic.

“We have a pipeline now, a connection to our business community that we didn’t have pre-covid so we need to leverage that and take advantage of that to continue to support our business community as they pull out of this very tough time that they have been in,” Powers explained.

While restrictions have been lifted in nearly every scenario, there are some situations where mask wearing and social distancing will remain, such as mega events which are events with over 5,000 people indoors or over 10,0000 people outdoors.

The CDC and California Department of public health also advises everyone to wear masks on public transport, in healthcare settings, in correctional facilities and in congregate shelters. Masks are also still required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses.

Some restrictions are still in place for employees in California such as mask wearing. CalOSHA will update restrictions and the mask mandate on June 17 to more closely fit the CDC and California guidelines, according to Powers.

As of June 14, 70.6% of Ventura County residents received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 61.5% are fully vaccinated compared to the state where 66.2% of the population has received one dose and 55.2% are fully vaccinated.

At the end of the county COVID-19 report during the Tuesday Board of Supervisors meeting, Ventura County Supervisor Kelly Long, thanked the community for its help and resilience during the pandemic.

“It has been 15 longs months in regards to the pandemic and all the ebb and flow of the rate of how it spread. I really want to say thank you to the community because the community helped stopped the spread of covid. The community went out and those who felt they needed it, got vaccinated, the community stayed home and did not spread [the virus] and that really speaks volumes to Ventura county where in other counties it wasn’t quite the same,” Long explained.

Board of Supervisors Chair Linda Parks also reflected on the long 15 months and paused to honor those who were taken by the pandemic.

“I want to take a moment to honor and respect those who we have lost and their loving families and friends, they’re still grieving in our country and in our communities and in our homes,” Parks expressed.

As of June 14, 1,025 Ventura County residents have died due to the COVID-19 virus.