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California Gov. Gavin Newsom looks to lift most of state's mask mandate in June

Except for large indoor gatherings, there would be "no mandates and no restrictions in businesses large and small" following the state's June 15 reopening.
Image: Pedestrians in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Dec. 9, 2020.
Pedestrians in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Dec. 9, 2020.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP file

Californians may not have to wear a mask in most circumstances beginning in mid-June, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in an interview Wednesday.

In a response to whether there would be mask requirements following California’s June 15 reopening, Newsom — citing the state's high vaccination rate and low Covid-19 infection rate — confidently responded “no."

The announcement, given during an interview with Los Angeles station KTTV, is the first significant indication of lifting the mask mandate in the nation's most populous state.

The primary exception would be for large indoor gatherings such as conventions, Newsom said.

“Only in those massively large settings where people around the world, not just around the country, are convening and where people are mixing in real dense spaces,” Newsom said. “Otherwise we’ll make guidance, recommendations, but no mandates and no restrictions in businesses large and small.”

Newsom is facing intense scrutiny as an effort to recall him became official last month when a petition received 1.6 million valid signatures. Candidates have already thrown their names in the ring against the Democratic for a likely fall election, including former Olympian and reality television star Caitlyn Jenner.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation on Newsom’s interview comments.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention changed their mask recommendations last month, noting that people do not need to wear masks if they are alone outdoors or only with members of their household, regardless of their vaccination status. Fully vaccinated individuals can go a step further and forgo masks at outdoor gatherings or at outdoor restaurants, the guidance said.

The agency still recommends masking up for most indoor activities and any situation that might have a large crowd. New York, along with many other states, updated their own mandates to reflect the new guidelines. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not indicate that the state would remove mandates for indoor activity though he announced the state would have a major reopening on May 19.

Some Republican-led states, such as Texas and Florida, lifted mask mandates in March despite low vaccination rates and recommendations from public health experts.