California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that would remove most of the state’s coronavirus rules
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 at least access to a coronavirus vaccine. A dose has been received. . From Tuesday, there will be no capacity limit or physical distancing requirement for businesses. People who have been fully vaccinated will not need to wear a mask, including indoors.
While most 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 right to change or suspend state laws indefinitely, unless he decides to abolish the emergency declaration or the state legislature does so for him. That latter option is unlikely as the Democrats dominate the legislature by a wide margin and are allied with the Democratic governor.
This has angered Republican lawmakers, who note state law requires the governor to end the state of emergency “at the earliest possible date that is warranted.” This week, three Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Newsom asking why the state of emergency still exists despite declining rates of new infections and hospitalizations.
Newsom has issued a total of 58 executive orders since the pandemic began, changing or suspending hundreds of state laws. Newsom’s secretary of legal affairs, Ann Patterson, said if Newsom now terminated the emergency declaration “all executive orders would cease.”
“It’s like Jenga Tower, you take out the bottom brick, it all comes down immediately without anyone noticing,” she said. “It has to be run in an orderly manner so that we can exit it safely and without disruption to businesses or public services.”
The governor’s office said Friday that 90% of Newsom’s executive orders issued during the pandemic would be lifted by the end of September.
The first batch will end on June 30, which also includes an order waiving license applications for manufacturers so that companies can start making new items as soon as possible to address shortages during the pandemic – like hand sanitizer.
The second batch of orders will be taken up on July 31, including an order suspending in-person visits by state workers who care for vulnerable communities. The final batch will end on September 30, which includes an order that allows parts of the state’s public assembly law to meet with local governments and vote virtually during the pandemic.
A small number of orders will remain in place indefinitely, including directives to provide state fairgrounds for pandemic response and to allow pharmacy technicians to deliver coronavirus vaccine doses.
Also on Friday, California Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas Aragon issued a new order that includes, among other things, new requirements for the wearing of masks that will take effect Tuesday. The new rules say that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks in most places, either outside our home. But the state still requires people who have not been vaccinated to wear masks in public places.
“We’ve met our metrics, we feel ready,” Dr. Mark Galli, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, told reporters on Friday. “Things in California, from a COVID transmission standpoint, are going quite well.”