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California Could Fully Reopen Economy June 15

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Andrew Nixon
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CapRadio
Zach Erickson adjusts tables to ensure they are socially distanced at Hop Garden Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

Updated at 11:23 a.m.

California could fully reopen starting June 15 if vaccine supply increases and COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low, state officials announced Tuesday.

The move would end the state's tiered reopening system and mark a shift to fully-occupied schools, stadiums and businesses. Though some restrictions like mask-wearing indoors are here to stay “for the foreseeable future,” said California’s top health official, Dr. Mark Ghaly.

The June 15 reopening date depends on adequate vaccine supply for every Californian 16 and older who wants it, and hospitalizations from COVID-19 remaining stable enough that health systems do not need to defer other care or appointments.

Administration officials made the announcement the same day California administered its 20 millionth vaccine dose and met a key equity goal by doling out 4 million doses in hard-hit, lower-income communities. California health officials announced last month they would dedicate 40% of all COVID-19 vaccine doses to the communities hit hardest by the pandemic in an effort to address inequality in the state's rollout.

“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. We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “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.”

Officials say the June 15 reopening date is subject to change if obstacles in vaccine delivery, virus variants, or increasing hospitalizations arise. They announced the date about 10 weeks in advance to give businesses time to plan and Californians time to schedule vaccine appointments. Every Californian 16 and older will be eligible to get the shot April 15.

Over the past month, California has sped up reopening as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have fallen from highs over the winter. That's included rules to allow for stadiums and theme parks to reopen, loosening case rate thresholds to let counties move more quickly through the state's tiered reopening system, and just last week making it possible to hold some indoor events and live performances.