By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer County of Santa Barbara, Department of Public Health and Van Do-Reynoso, MPH, PhD, Director, Public Health Department, Santa Barbara County
It would be wonderful if the worldwide coronavirus pandemic were truly over, but the fact is, June 15 marks the beginning of our return to normalcy in California, not the end of the Pandemic.
June 15, 2021, marks the State of California’s reopening, at which time the state will discontinue the use of the Blueprint colored tier structure that helped the state manage COVID-19 in our counties over the past year.
California is enjoying the lowest COVID-19 case rate of any US state, and hospitalizations are near record lows, but the virus can still infect persons without immunity and lead to severe illness.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is encouraging all eligible residents to get vaccinated and to adhere to masking where it is still required. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a new masking guidance to go into effect on June 15 here.
The new guidelines align with recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stating that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear face-coverings or distance in almost all situations.
Under the state’s updated guidelines, vaccinated residents can safely choose to shed their masks except in select circumstances which include public transportation, indoors at schools and child-care facilities, health care and long-term care facilities, correctional facilities and homeless shelters.
Those who are not yet vaccinated will need to continue wearing masks at indoor public settings, including retail stores, government offices, and movie theaters.
After June 15 in California:
- No more physical distancing requirements for attendees, customers, and guests at almost all businesses and other institutions (except public transportation, health care settings, correctional institutions, and homeless and emergency shelters).
- No more occupancy capacity limitations for indoor businesses.
- Restrictions at restaurants, open bars, and buffets will go away.
- Organizers of indoor events with more than 5,000 people, such as a basketball games etc., will be required to either verify that attendees are fully vaccinated or have tested negative within 72 hours of the event’s start time or they can choose to have everyone wear a mask.
- Organizers of large outdoor events with more than 10,000 attendees should follow the new masking guidance.
- The requirement/recommendation for testing and vaccine verification will remain in effect through Oct. 1, though state officials will assess conditions prior to that to determine how, or whether, to update or extend that guidance.
- California’s travel advisory will be retired. We urge everyone to follow CDC travel advisories.
The removal of the Blueprint tiers on June 15 will happen with the emergency proclamation still in place. The emergency proclamation will remain in place for the time being as it gives California the needed administrative flexibility to respond to the crisis and ensures counties will be supported in their response to the pandemic. It allows for facilitation with FEMA on programs like vaccinations and testing.
While we are ready to reopen safely, COVID remains a risk and leaving the emergency order in place allows us to move quickly if the situation changes.
We want to take this opportunity to thank our amazing community for their diligence throughout the pandemic. We will continue to provide information and monitor data relevant to the pandemic at: publichealthsbc.org. Please stay safe Santa Barbara County!
CALIFORNIA REOPENING ON JUNE 15
Santa Barbara County Businesses Reopen While Public Advised to Remain Vigilant
Source: Santa Barbara County Public Health
Beginning Tuesday, June 15, California will begin to fully reopen. Santa Barbara County will no longer have restrictions on occupancy or social distancing in any business. Santa Barbara County will not be issuing a new Health Officer Order, but will be deferring to the State’s Public Health Officer Order. The current county Health Officer Order will expire at 11:59 p.m. tonight, June 14. Masks will no longer be required in most settings for fully vaccinated persons. While masks are no longer required outdoors, they are still required for everyone at mega events, work locations, public transportation, and some other settings. Businesses may still choose to require masks to be worn by patrons. For this reason, Santa Barbara county residents should always have a mask available. The State’s guidance for masks can be found here.
Although Santa Barbara County does not have venues which would hold a capacity to be considered a mega event, it is likely that residents will travel out of county for such events. A mega event includes 5,000 or more people indoors or 10,000 or more people outdoors. Because mega events are high risk for spreading COVID-19, indoor event attendees will be required to confirm proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 status. Outdoor mega events are recommended to follow this practice. Masks must also be worn at both indoor and outdoor mega events.
Van Do-Reynoso, Director for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department states, “June 15 does not mark an end to the pandemic, but rather the beginning of a return to normalcy. I am proud of all our community has done to get us safely to this point. Please remember to stay home if you are sick, continue excellent hand hygiene, and get vaccinated as soon as you can.”
More information on what to expect on June 15 and beyond can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org/june-15th-beyond/.