LOS ANGELES: California, the most populous state in the United States, on Friday announced plans to fully reopen its economy on June 15 amid dropping cases and vaccine eligibility expansion.
Beginning on June 15, almost all industry and business sectors may return to usual operations with no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements, according to the updated guidelines unveiled by the California Department of Public Health.
There are still limited exceptions for "mega events," characterized by large crowds greater than 5,000 attendees at indoor venues or 10,000 attendees at outdoor events. Public health officials will still recommend sponsors of those events to encourage everyone to get vaccinated when eligible.
Verification of fully vaccinated status or pre-entry negative test result is strongly recommended for all attendees.
"Californians should be proud of the work we've done together to get through the worst of this pandemic," said State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health Tomas Aragon in a statement.
"Relaxing many of our public health measures is possible because we've chosen to get vaccinated against COVID-19, worn masks and kept our distance. We urge Californians who are eligible to get vaccinated and continue taking common sense prevention steps so we can keep our forward progress in defeating this virus," Aragon noted.
California was the first state in the United States to issue a statewide stay-at-home order over a rapid spread of COVID-19 in March last year. It was once the epicenter of the disease in the country with the highest number of cases and deaths.
The state of around 40 million residents has more than 3.67 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 61,672 related deaths to date, according to the department.
Official statistics say more than 35 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide and over 16 million California residents have been fully vaccinated as of Friday.