California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) says that mask mandates and other COVID-19-related restrictions could be eased or altogether lifted by June 15, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.
What are the details?
Newsom said Wednesday that the state could "significantly ease its mask mandates" over the next several weeks, the outlet reported, citing the continued decline of COVID-19 infections and increase in vaccinations.
On June 15, Newsom said, "we'll move beyond the blueprint and we'll be in a completely different space."
"We will be updating our mask guidelines, outdoor masking, if we reach that threshold where we hope to be ... in fact, it will be eliminated, those mandates," he said. "They'll be guidelines or recommendations."
The California Democrat continued, "But for indoor activities, we will still have, likely, some mask guidelines and mandates. But we hope, sooner than later, that those will be lifted as well."
Earlier this week, Newsom said that the timeline following the June 15 date could look a lot like life did before the pandemic turned the world on its head.
"That world looks a lot like the world we entered into before the pandemic," he said. "We're not wearing face coverings. We're not restricted in any way, shape, or form of doing the old things that we used to do."
Other than large-scale indoor events, Newsom added, the government plans to "make guidance" and "recommendations," but vows that there won't be any further mandates or restrictions on businesses.
The outlet states that Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, who is professor of medicine and an infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco, said that he believes there is still reason to be cautious about removing masks while indoors.
“I don't think we're there yet," he said. “Even if you are vaccinated, the more people you bring together, the higher the chance of nonresponders getting together where they can transmit.
He added that the larger the group is, the higher the chance exists that some people are not fully protected against the virus and could transmit or be infected with coronavirus.
He also noted that many people might continue to wear masks out of habit or for personal reasons that have nothing to do with COVID-19.
Chin-Hong added that it's important for people to realize that they have "control" over how they can respond to the pandemic, or even the garden-variety cold or flu.
“Essentially, it's one thing that we have control over in the pandemic," he reasoned. “And if, at the end of the day, we have better acceptance of people wearing masks to protect other people when they have a cold or something, I'm all for that."