SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – It’s official: Most California coronavirus rules governing public gatherings will disappear Tuesday after Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Friday afternoon that announces the end of the grip of the pandemic swept over much of the nation’s most populous state’s public life.
Newsom’s action on Friday ensures that the state will end the stay-at-home order and its various amendments on Tuesday after more than 15 months on the books, as more than 70% of adults in the state have received at the minus one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. From Tuesday, there will be no more capacity limits or physical distancing requirements for businesses. Fully vaccinated people will not be required to wear a mask, including indoors.
While much of public life will officially return to normal on Tuesday, the state will still be subject to a statewide declaration of emergency. This means Newsom retains his authority to change or suspend state laws indefinitely, until he decides to end the declaration of emergency or the state legislature does so for him. The latter option is unlikely because Democrats largely dominate the legislature and are allied with the Democratic governor.
This angered Republican lawmakers, who note that state law requires the governor to end the state of emergency “as soon as possible if conditions warrant.” This week, three Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Newsom urging him to know why the state of emergency still exists despite falling rates of new infections and hospitalizations.
Newsom has issued a total of 58 executive orders since the start of the pandemic, amending or suspending hundreds of state laws. Ann Patterson, Newsom’s legal secretary, said that if Newsom ends the declaration of emergency now, “all executive orders are gone.”
“It’s like the Jenga Tower, you take out the brick from the bottom, everything falls immediately without notifying anyone,” she said. “It has to happen in an orderly fashion so that we can get out of it safely and without disrupting businesses or public services. “
The governor’s office said on Friday that 90% of Newsom’s executive orders issued during the pandemic will be lifted by the end of September.
The first batch will end on June 30, including an order that waived license applications for manufacturers so companies could quickly start making new things – like hand sanitizer – to deal with shortages during the pandemic. .
The second batch of ordinances will be lifted on July 31, including an ordinance that suspended in-person visits by state officials who deal with vulnerable communities. The final batch will end on September 30, including an order suspending parts of the state’s open meeting law to allow local governments to meet and vote virtually during the pandemic.
A smaller number of orders will remain indefinitely, including guidelines making state fairgrounds available for pandemic response and allowing pharmacy technicians to administer doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
Also on Friday, Dr Tomás Aragón, California’s public health official, issued a new order that, among other things, puts in place new mask-wearing requirements that come into effect on Tuesday. The new rules state that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear a mask in most places, whether indoors or outdoors. But the state still requires unvaccinated people to wear masks in public places.
“We have reached our parameters, we feel prepared,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Agency for Health and Human Services, told reporters on Friday. “Things in California, from a COVID transmission standpoint, are going reasonably well. “