SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a tentative date to re-opening California by mid-June and rolling back most pandemic-related restrictions.

Newsom stressed the decision to open up on June 15 will be based two criteria: stable hospitalized rates and a sufficient vaccine supply for Californians 16 years and older who wish to be inoculated.

Commonsense precautions implemented more than a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic will continue, such as proper sanitation and wearing of face masks.

“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” said Newsom in a news release. “We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic. We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”

According to the news release, when the state fully reopens, the governor's "Blueprint for a Safer Economy" roadmap will be scrapped. The blueprint currently dictates the level of re-opening a county can allow based on a four-tiered color system.

Kern County recently entered into the red tier from the most restrictive purple tier based in part on improved metrics for less COVID-19 positivity rates and daily new cases, and on part due to Newsom relaxing the tiered systems due to people being vaccinated.

The move into the red tier signaled that restaurants could re-open for indoor service at 25% capacity and gyms at 10% capacity. A move to the orange tier is expected, allowing for even greater capacity.

According to the state news release, testing and vaccination verification requirements will continue to be in place in certain settings, such as travel from out of country or for large scale events.

“California has made incredible progress controlling the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, masking, and getting vaccines out quickly to Californians in every corner of the state, including in those communities hardest hit by this pandemic,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “In order to take the next step, we must continue to do our part to keep this momentum moving in the right direction, and that means continuing to wear a mask and ensuring everyone who is eligible gets the vaccine.”

The announcement also provides something businesses in Kern County didn't have six months ago: the ability to plan — and hope to recover, even as some businesses have permanently shuttered.

“Small-business owners need predictability and dependability from their governments to make a range of decisions from hiring to purchasing to expanding their enterprises,” Sunder Ramani, chairman of the National Federation of Independent Businesses California Leadership Council, said in a statement. “This reopening certainty will help afford those Main Street businesses affected the most an opportunity to recover and move forward. The governor’s establishment of a complete reopening date now gives them something solid to make plans with.”

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