California will fully reopen Tuesday. What will change as the pandemic fades?

People dine inside a restaurant.
David Miller and Angie Hagans dine at Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ in downtown San Luis Obispo in March. California will widely reopen most business sectors Tuesday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

California is set to fully reopen its economy Tuesday.

So what will really change? Lots.

Even in the yellow tier — the least restrictive category in the state’s COVID-19 pandemic reopening framework, which is set to be retired Tuesday — there have been plenty of business restrictions.

Indoor capacity at restaurants, for instance, has been capped at 50%. L.A. County eateries also had to observe requirements that kept tables a certain number of feet away from one another. Both those requirements will be retired, and restaurants and bars will once again be allowed full capacity.


Changes at all sorts of public spaces will be dramatic, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County public health director.

“It’s huge,” she said. For “restaurants, bars, nightclubs, card rooms, family entertainment centers, there will not be specific protocols. ... There will be no capacity limits and no distancing requirements.”

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Californians who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to stop wearing face masks in most situations, unless a business or venue decides to keep masks mandatory for everyone.

Fully vaccinated employees, however, may have to wait a little longer before removing their masks in the workplace. The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board suggested it would approve a new rule allowing fully vaccinated employees to stop wearing masks in most workplaces effective June 28.

Masking requirements won’t keep most businesses from resuming full operations, Ferrer said.


“It’s feeling a bit unreal that ... Tuesday most of the restrictions that we’ve lived under for a year plus will all be lifted. Businesses, offices, venues can all be at 100%,” San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney tweeted last week.

L.A. County will issue “best practices” guidance for businesses, but they will not be requirements.

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Here’s how things will change Tuesday in various spaces and situations now governed by yellow-tier restrictions.

Amusement parks and fairs, held to 35% of capacity, will be allowed to reopen at full capacity.

Restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys, ice-skating rinks and arcades can reopen at full capacity, up from 50%.

Bars that don’t serve food — now at 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer — can reopen at full capacity.

Conferences, receptions and meetings can resume at full capacity with no limitations, as long as the event is not an indoor mega-event with 5,000 or more people or an outdoor mega-event with 10,000 or more.

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Venues that will still have special restrictions include schools, day cares, camps, healthcare facilities, high-risk congregate living facilities, public transit and mega-events.

Organizers of indoor events with more than 5,000 people, such as a basketball game, will be required to verify that attendees are either fully vaccinated or have tested negative within 72 hours of the event’s start time.

At outdoor events with more than 10,000 attendees, organizers will recommend — but not require — the same vaccination or negative-test information, though venues in those instances will have the option of allowing unvaccinated and untested attendees, provided those people wear a mask at all times.