ou can also stop wearing masks in most places if you are vaccinated.

After more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions, California is opening back up. It’s a major change that affects most activities in public spaces, from restaurants and bars to amusement parks and movie theaters.

Starting today (June 15), there are no capacity limits or social distancing requirements at businesses. You can also stop wearing masks in most places if you are vaccinated.

Here are eight things to know:

1. Health experts say we’re ready
“I think the Public Health Department in California has done a very good job of slowing things down when there were surges in cases. Now, I think we’re in a good place to open,” said Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Health.

California’s vaccination rate and the relatively low transmission rate are good signs. Summer weather will also help.

“Historically, coronavirus transmitted more in winter, so if there’s enough immunity, there should be less transmission just naturally,” Blumberg explained.

2. Vaccinated? You can take off the mask in most places

Under the new state guidelines, restaurants can open at full capacity.
Masks will no longer be required for fully vaccinated people in most businesses and other public spaces. Unvaccinated individuals should still mask up.

“If you are vaccinated, you can do virtually anything because the vaccines work so well,” Blumberg said. “You don’t have to wear a mask, even when you are in a crowded situation. But anybody who’s not fully vaccinated should continue to mask up if they’re not able to social distance or if they’re going to be indoors with anybody else.”

Learn more about scheduling your vaccine at UC Davis Health

3. Being nervous about ‘normalcy’ is normal
Going without a mask, eating in a crowded restaurant, or gathering with friends for a party may feel a little strange at first.

“I think the nerves are going to wear off,” Blumberg said. “We’ve gotten so accustomed to following rules, social distancing, not being with other people outside of our households that it feels really strange to then stop following the rules. I think it’s going to take a while to emotionally feel safe in that situation after what we’ve been through.”

Even Blumberg admitted that he felt strange eating out with another couple for the first time at a restaurant.

4. Go at your own pace
Blumberg’s best advice about re-entry? Take small steps and consider your own comfort level.

“I think everybody understands that this reopening requires a recalibration of our carefulness, and some people may not be comfortable in a large gathering yet,” Blumberg said. “Start with a smaller setting and work your way up to something more crowded to make sure you’re comfortable with it.”

It is rare, though still possible, to get infected with COVID-19 even if you’re fully vaccinated, especially in crowds.

“The highest rates of transmission are going to be any area where there’s a high concentration of people – cruise ship, prison or residential centers such as long-term care facilities or shelters,” he said.

Some people may feel like they have been cooped up for so long, they just want to be out. Blumberg notes that it’s a personal risk calculation and you can always still wear a mask if you choose, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

The state has specific recommendations for larger events, like ones with more than 5,000 people. Some organizers may check vaccine status or require negative tests for attendance. Check with each event organizer before attending.

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