California Gov. Newsom signs order to end most of state's coronavirus restrictions, reopen Tuesday

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed an order that will lift most coronavirus-related restrictions in the state, allowing it to officially reopen Tuesday. 

The Democrat’s executive order will end the state’s tier system that based restrictions on case numbers in different counties, according to FOX 11 in Los Angeles. 

“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,” Newsom said in a statement. “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.”

The state will remove most state-imposed restrictions on masks, capacity limits and social distancing, although many businesses will likely keep some in place.

A new state mask order that takes effect Tuesday allows vaccinated people to go most places – indoors and outdoors – without masks but still requires face coverings in public spaces for those who aren’t vaccinated. It was unclear how that would be enforced. 

Masks will still be required in places like hospitals, public transit, nursing homes and homeless shelters and proof of vaccination or negative test will be required for large indoor events, according to FOX 11. 

Signs with social distancing guidelines and face mask requirements are posted at an outdoor mall amid the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Associated Press)

Newsom issued the country’s first stay-at-home order in March 2020. Since then, the order has been amended to allow most businesses to reopen and other restrictions have been eased but not removed. 

Newsom’s handling of the pandemic has faced fierce scrutiny from Republicans and other critics who launched a bid to recall him. The recall election is likely to occur in the fall but faces substantial hurdles to succeed as the governor remains popular among Democrats.  

While much of public life will officially return to normal on Tuesday, the state will still be under a statewide declaration of emergency. That means Newsom retains his authority to alter or suspend state laws indefinitely, either until he decides to end the emergency declaration or the state Legislature does it for him. That latter option is not likely because Democrats dominate the Legislature by a wide margin.

Three state Republican lawmakers asked Newsom in a letter this week why he hasn’t ended the emergency declaration since infection rates have gotten substantially lower. 

The governor’s office said Friday that 90% of Newsom’s executive orders issued during the pandemic will be lifted by the end of September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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