California to keep mask mandate in place until June reopening, despite CDC update

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Posted at 11:34 AM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 20:13:54-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California will not lift its face-covering mandate until after its planned June reopening of the economy.

According to California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state will keep its mandate in place despite the move by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change its mask guidance for those who are fully vaccinated.

The CDC announced last week that individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear face coverings or social distance in most settings.

Ghaly said California is not moving to immediately suspend face coverings rules on that guidance and will wait until the state rolls back its color-coded reopening tier system on June 15. It wasn't immediately clear how this will impact several large businesses that have announced changes to their mask policies since the CDC's decision.


Ghaly added that the four-week period will give residents time to implement the change into their daily life and the state time to continue its focus of vaccinating the hardest-hit communities.

County Board of Supervisor Chairman Nathan Fletcher said the county will also wait to lift any local mask mandates until the June 15 reopening:

"San Diego County is aligned with the California Department of Public Health and will wait until June 15th to adopt CDC mask guidance. This short time frame allows us to ensure everyone has access to the vaccine and time for business and entities across our county to prepare for the change. There is significant planning already associated with the June 15th movement ‘beyond the blueprint’ and this change will align well with those efforts. Our careful posture during the pandemic has resulted in a low positivity rate and one of the lowest death rates; continuing the mask requirements for a few more weeks provides an added layer of protection as we work on getting more San Diegans vaccinated. Masks definitely help more than they hurt."

Last Thursday, the CDC announced that Americans who are two weeks out from their final COVID-19 vaccine dose can largely return to life before the pandemic.

Previous CDC guidance on face masks before lifting it for fully vaccinated Americans:

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment, when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

The change, however, created confusion among many California businesses, since the CDC change is guidance, and not a mandate itself. California's mandate is a requirement for businesses and state officials had not offered an update immediately following the agency's reversal until now.

The CDC still recommends that individuals wear face coverings during air and interstate commercial travel.