California has officially reopened — what to know if you’re planning a trip

Jun 15, 2021

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California‘s long-awaited reopening date is finally here: June 15, 2021.

For more than a year, The Golden State has been under varying restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, including limiting nonessential travel from other states and requiring quarantine procedures.

After a strong push for residents to get vaccinated and lower COVID-19 infection rates, the California health department released guidance back in May that the state was safe to remove nearly all restrictions in June, and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that June 15 was the magic date for restrictions to end and businesses to return to something closer to “normal.”

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“California is turning the page on this pandemic, thanks to swift action by the state and the work of Californians who followed public health guidelines and got vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities,” said Gov. Newsom in a press release on June 11, 2021. “With nearly 40 million vaccines administered and among the lowest case rates in the nation, we are lifting the orders that impact Californians on a day-to-day basis while remaining vigilant to protect public health and safety as the pandemic persists.”

For those who are fully vaccinated, life is returning to the closest it’s been to “normal” since before the pandemic. And while there are still some precautions that will remain (the pandemic isn’t over, yet), June 15 marks a shift toward life after.

Now that California is open for U.S. travelers without quarantine requirements, you might start planning a trip to Disneyland or other popular California destinations.

Here’s what you need to know about the state’s reopening.

No quarantine, capacity limits or social distancing measures required

Up until now, California counties had to adhere to a Blueprint for a Safer Economy, where certain sectors (including businesses, schools, events and more) had to follow strict guidelines until the county hit certain lowered infection rates.

Starting June 15, the capacity limits and social distancing measures required under the blueprint are eliminated. Businesses are allowed to increase to full capacity, and you’ll likely see fewer social distancing dots scattered on the ground. Mega-events are also coming back, though there are still special restrictions for larger indoor and outdoor events (more on that later).

Additionally, you’ll no longer have to go through the quarantine process when traveling to California. Disneyland and other in-state theme parks are once again open for out-of-state visitors, too. If California is on your 2021 travel list, you can officially start planning your visit.

But keep in mind that just because social distancing and capacity requirements have been eliminated, counties are still allowed to impose their own restrictions. At the time of writing, no California counties had announced plans to impose separate restrictions, but if COVID-19 cases start to rise in some places, county governments may step in and add temporary restrictions to stop a surge.

Additionally, private businesses are also free to impose their own restrictions for entry.

Close up of young Asian woman enjoying freshly made pizza in an Italian restaurant
(Photo by d3sign/Getty Images)

Masks will still be required in some cases

Another restriction saying goodbye is the state-wide mask mandate — at least, for fully vaccinated individuals. If you’re vaccinated, you’ll be able to go to restaurants and bars, shop, see movies, go grocery shopping and more without wearing a mask.

Related: CDC relaxes indoor mask guidance for fully vaccinated people

However, that doesn’t mean you can throw away your N-95s just yet. Many businesses may still require masks as an added precaution, and all non-vaccinated individuals will still be required to wear masks indoors.

Additionally, there are still places where the State of California is requiring the wearing of masks:

  • Public transportation
  • Prisons
  • Hospitals and long-term care facilities
  • K–12 schools and childcare facilities (while indoors)
  • Homeless shelters
  • Indoor workplaces (unless everyone in the workplace is fully vaccinated)

So while you may be able to visit a bar without wearing a mask, don’t be surprised if employees are still sporting one.

Mega events will still have some restrictions

Concert-lovers and sports fans alike will be able to enjoy stadium events once again, but there are some hoops to jump through.

Outdoor live events with more than 10,000 people are “strongly recommended” to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry. Anyone who can’t provide one or the other must wear a mask while at the event. According to ABC7 News, Oracle Park will also strongly recommend masks for fans at Giants games — especially fans who aren’t vaccinated.

For indoor events, there’s less wiggle room. Verification of full vaccination or a pre-entry negative COVID-19 test will be required for all attendees. And unlike outdoor events, those who can’t comply will not be allowed into the venue. So if you want to check out a Warrior’s game while visiting, make sure you’re fully vaccinated and bring proof.

Disneyland is open and masks are not required

And, of course, we can’t talk about California reopening without mentioning the happiest place on Earth.

Disneyland Cinderella's Castle on reopening day
(Photo by Ariana Arghandewal / The Points Guy)

Starting June 15, out-of-state visitors are once again welcome at Disneyland. The reservation system meant to help monitor capacity will remain in place, but fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear masks indoors or outdoors. California will no longer impose capacity limits on Disneyland, but Disney has yet to announce when the parks will return to full capacity.

While California doesn’t have a ban on requiring proof of vaccination, Disneyland says it will not require guests to show proof before entry. However, you will have to self-attest that you are in compliance before entry and acknowledge that you are aware of the state’s strong recommendation to be fully vaccinated or receive a negative COVD-19 test prior to entry.

Finally, social distancing requirements will be eliminated in accordance with the state’s new guidelines, so guests will be able to self-determine how far to remain from other guests.

Bottom line

The biggest thing to remember is that at the end of the day, only the state’s official guidelines are dropping. Private businesses and individual county governments are still allowed to impose restrictions however they see fit to stop the spread of COVID-19. So while your favorite L.A. bar may no longer be government-mandated to require masks or only operate at a lowered capacity, it may decide to keep restrictions in place for added safety. Or, you could be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter.

But those who are vaccinated should see a much more “business as usual” atmosphere in California — both current residents and newly welcomed travelers from other states. This is the most recent action the U.S. has taken as the country (and the world) takes steps to welcome safe travel back and usher in what will be the new normal in the post-pandemic era.

Featured image by Luciano Lejtman/Getty Images. 

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