The state is expected to fully reopen June 15, but local rules still unclear

Mayor Robert Garcia said the rules that Long Beach residents can expect after the California economy fully reopens June 15 could be released in the next few days, but they won’t include a requirement to prove vaccination status to go maskless.

The city, already in the least restrictive tier of California’s reopening model, is now just days away from allowing restaurants and other businesses to welcome customers at full capacity.

But other details, such as whether customers and workers will still be required to wear masks, is still unclear.

The city is largely expected to align its new rules with the state, which state officials already said would be in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says fully vaccinated persons no longer have to wear masks in most situations, indoor or outdoor.

Garcia said that Long Beach will not be more strict that the state’s guidance when it comes to health orders and workplace requirements.

“The health department is planning on doing the best it can in enforcement, working with businesses and doing what it can to make sure that everyone is safe,” Garcia said. “The city is not putting in place any ‘show your vaccination card’ requirement at any location.”

Masks will still likely to be required for everyone in healthcare settings, while on public transit and inside shelters and correctional facilities. For large outdoor evens (10,000 or more) and indoor events (5,000 or more) the state is also expected to recommend proof of vaccination or negative test to attend.

However, other rules won’t be clear until after the state issues its guidance, which will allow county and city officials  to draft their own health orders.

Garcia said that the city, like the county, will be living under an honor system after June 15 and that he hopes that people will continue to “do the right thing.”

“A lot of it’s going to be on people being honest and keeping other people safe,” Garcia said.  “We know that with masks it’s not about protecting you, it’s about protecting others.”

What workplace requirements are ultimately put in place could dictate what things the city can monitor and enforce, Garcia said. The city wrote 11 citations for persons not following the mask mandate during the pandemic.

The Cal/OSHA board is meeting again this week in hopes of issuing final guidance on workplace rules for employers and employees, which is holding up the release of the state’s updated health orders.

Last week, the board said employees could stop wearing masks if all employees around them were fully vaccinated.

Garcia spoke Wednesday in front of Long Beach Memorial Center, where he said that only three people were currently hospitalized with COVID-19. At the peak of infections in the city, Memorial had 220 patients, Garcia said.

Long Beach has had 942 residents die from the virus, and has vaccinated nearly 63% of eligible residents. COVID-19 case rates are the lowest they’ve been since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Long Beach has written 11 citations for people violating the city’s mask mandate

Workers in California may have to keep wearing masks depending on Cal/OSHA decision today

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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