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By Miriam Raftery

May 22, 2021 (San Diego) – Fifteen months after COVID-19 shut downs began, the state of California will be lifting all capacity limits and color-coded tiers starting June 15, allowing all businesses to reopen at full capacity without physical distancing. Locally, that includes Padres games at full capacity, a return of symphony concerts, festivals and more.

The announcement came Friday from Dr. Mark Ghaly, head of the California Health and Human Services Agency, who indicated the state will largely follow guidelines U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There will, however, be some requirements for mega-indoor events as well as guidelines for massive outdoor events. In addition, rules remain pending for workplaces and some travel limits may be imposed for travelers from nations with high rates of COVID, in accordance with CDC recommendations.

For indoor events with over 5,000 attendees, the state will require organizers to confirm proof of vaccinations or negative COVID-tests.

For large outdoor events with over 10,000 attendees, the state will recommend, though not require, that operators verify vaccination or a negative COVID test. Persons not vaccinated nor tested could be allowed to attend large outdoor events if they wear a mask, the state suggests.

The state will not issue vaccine passports, Ghaly confirmed.  However organizers can easily ask to see a vaccination card, which many people have photographed and scanned onto their cell phones.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) will vote June 3 on revised workplace standards.

“You are going to have very different rules that apply to those who are fully vaccinated and those who are not fully vaccinated,” says employment law attorney Dan Eaton, 10 News reports.

The new rules may require businesses to allow vaccinated workers to go maskless, but require those not vaccinated to undergo weekly COVID testing or provide physical distancing.

Regardless of whatever the state requires, businesses will be free to voluntarily choose to continue requiring masks of workers or customers.  Businesses that don’t require masks also cannot prevent a worker or customer from wearing masks, or ask why.

Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.

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