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California set to drop restaurant restrictions on June 15

A face mask requirement will remain in place, but the state will otherwise resume "business as usual," according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
California restaurants opening
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants in California will be free to operate nearly as they did in pre-pandemic days starting June 15 if the state continues to meet two key indications that it is keeping COVID-19 in check, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

The governor said he will fully re-open the state on that date if the thresholds are met. His statements indicate that capacity caps would be dropped for restaurants and most other businesses. In short, Newsom said, it’d be “business as usual…we’re moving past the dimmer switch.”

However, staff and guests would still be required to wear masks or other face coverings. Newsom said he intends to keep the face-covering mandate in place, and warned that the full reopening could be postponed if the public doesn’t follow that safety practice.

Newsom expressed confidence that the other thresholds he set will be met. The state must ensure that it has access to enough vaccines to inoculate all residents over age 16 “on an equitable basis,” and that hospitalizations from COVID-19 stabilize at their current low rates.

The state is currently on a trajectory to realize both goals, the governor stressed.

California is currently operating under a patchwork of capacity restrictions that pivot on local infection and hospitalization rates. Under that highly localized regulations, restaurants were given a green light to expand their indoor dining capacities to 50% of seating just yesterday.

Under Newsom’s plan, California would join Texas, Massachusetts, South Carolina and several other states in dropping most COVID-related restrictions on restaurants.

Operators in other areas are facing the prospect of having limitations re-imposed because of an ongoing COVID surge. A health official from Illinois’ Cook County, the jurisdiction that encompasses Chicago, said Monday that a local spike in new cases will likely bring another “clampdown” within days.

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