Despite a concerning jump in coronavirus cases in several prominent cities like New York and Detroit in recent weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said today, April 6, that he believes the nation’s most populous state could be ready to “fully reopen” by June 15.
“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state,” said Newsom, per the LA Times, “it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to reopen California’s economy.”
The removal of the state’s longstanding tiered reopening plan, dubbed the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, would be a massive shift in public health policy and a longer lifeline for battered small businesses, particularly in the restaurant and hospitality sector. Forgoing tiers would likely mean few or no business restrictions of any kind, from limited service capacities for indoor dining rooms to truncated hours of service like the current 10 p.m. cutoff for outdoor-only bars that don’t serve food.
Of course, the June 15 date is just a marker for now. Currently, Los Angeles and Orange counties are in the orange tier, the second least-restrictive reopening tier out of four, with San Diego and other counties set to follow into the orange tier as soon as tomorrow. If LA’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and case rates continue to fall even slowly moving forward, it’s likely that the county could enter the least-restrictive yellow tier by the end of this month, with an eye toward the broad June 15 reopening thereafter. Newsom noted that, in addition to stabilized COVID-19 case rates, the state would need to see continually low hospitalizations and have a “sufficient” supply of vaccines available for those who are eligible.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that all of Southern California would immediately get “back to normal,” despite the massive vaccination efforts statewide. Newsom said that certain protocols would likely remain in place — think an ongoing mask mandate — for the foreseeable future post-June 15, and it remains to be seen how the state will deal with large-scale public events like indoor concerts at that time.
Regardless, today’s encouraging news means that should the state’s current COVID-19 case numbers hold roughly steady or decrease, limited-capacity dining and drinking could be a thing of the past by early summer. The state is also opening up vaccine appointments to the vast majority of the state later this month, and Newsom said today that he would push to drop the eligibility down from 16 years of age to 12 as soon as the Center for Disease Control approved the move.