Starting Tuesday, Vaccinated Californians Can Lose Their Masks Almost Everywhere

California mask rules change when the state reopens on June 15. Here’s what you need to know before the big day
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Throughout the pandemic, there’s been almost nowhere people over two years old could go mask-free in California. But that changes on June 15 when the Golden State reopens and adopts the mask-wearing regulations set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for fully vaccinated people (meaning at least two weeks after your final COVID shot). However, while you revel in your naked-faced freedom, there are still a few places where you’ll have to keep your pretty visage covered up.

  • On public transportation: Planes, trains, and automobiles—also ships, ferries, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares.
  • Inside transportation hubs: Airports, bus terminals, marinas, train stations, seaports, other ports, and subway stations.
  • Inside K-12 schools, childcare facilities and other youth settings. *This may change as the CDC updates its K-12 guidelines.
  • Healthcare settings, including long term care facilities.
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers.
  • Homeless shelters, emergency centers, and cooling centers.

What if I kind of like wearing the mask?

That’s up to you—no matter what anyone else says. According to the California Department of Public Health, “No person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a business.”

While business owners, venue operators and hosts cannot force anyone to unmask, they may:

  • Require all patrons to wear a mask.
  • Provide information to all patrons, guests, and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry.
  • Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.

What about when I go to work?

Initially, CAL/OSHA wanted to implement workplace mask standards that were more stringent than the CDC’s—for instance that employees could only free their faces if everyone in the room was fully vaccinated.

However, that idea received hearty blowback and last Wednesday the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board put the kibosh on that idea.

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom said that California will “be consistent with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] guidelines,” and that vaccinated workers wouldn’t have to wear masks after June 17. As long as Cal/OSHA adopts those rules at its June 17 meeting, Newsom said he’d sign an executive order to forgo the usual ten-day legal review period.

Hey, I’m not vaccinated. What now?

Get vaccinated—it’s free! And, from the CDPH:

  • For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained, including when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.

Is there anyone who’s always exempt from wearing masks?

  • Persons younger than two years old.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask.
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

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