California’s reopening is here. What will change?
To celebrate California’s reopening, Chris Frederick, co-owner of Third Street Aleworks in Santa Rosa, is bringing back $2.50 bratwurst and beers — a popular Tuesday night tradition that vanished 15 months ago at the outset the pandemic.
The statewide lifting of COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday will allow the brew pub to reopen the bar and seat customers indoors without any social distancing requirements.
The indoor bar at Third Street Aleworks has been closed since March 15, 2020, and its return to business paired well with the revival of the beloved brats and beers event, Frederick said.
“We’re excited, though, feeling like it’s been a long road and we’re coming out of a tunnel,” he said.
The pub, like many other businesses freed Tuesday of pandemic capacity limits, has been ramping up its staffing levels in recent weeks, getting ready for what is expected to be the closest thing to normal since COVID-19 safeguards shut down most in-person business in March 2020.
Frederick said his staff, who are fully vaccinated, will continue to wear face coverings, in accordance with current state workplace safety rules. But customers at the pub will not be required by the state or county to wear masks if they are fully vaccinated.
The same goes for range of other businesses in food and beverage service, entertainment venues, gyms and museums. Authorities won’t require customers to wear facial coverings to enter any of them.
There are a number of exceptions. Masks will still be required when using mass transportation, including planes, trains, ferries and ships, buses, taxis and rideshares.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would sign an executive order that would allow vaccinated workers to forego masks as soon as Cal/OSHA, the state agency that oversees workplace safety, approves a rule on Thursday. Without an executive order, the rule would not go into effect until later this month.
What changes Tuesday?
So, aside from the use of masks, what changes Tuesday? Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer, said all businesses will be allowed to resume business at full capacity, including indoor service.
“This includes all restaurants, bars, wineries and movie theaters. Gyms and places of worship also will be allowed to open fully without limits,” Mase said. “The same is true of museums and family entertainment centers.”
The state will still require masks in the following settings:
* Indoors in kindergarten through 12 schools, childcare and other youth settings. Federal health officials are expected to release new schools guidance.
* Healthcare facilities, including long term care facilities; state and local correctional facilities and detention centers.
* Homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers.
Can I have a pool party or neighborhood barbecue?
Mase said there will no longer be any limits on private gatherings at residences, parks and businesses. “We can gather again with our family, friends and neighbors, which is very exciting,” she said.
If I’m not vaccinated, do I have to wear a mask?
Yes, people who unvaccinated will still be required to wear masks, though businesses will mainly rely on the honor system. County officials said Monday that all county employees and residents who visit county government offices will still be required to wear masks.
County officials said some businesses may require customers to wear masks, even if they are vaccinated. “Businesses may ask their patrons to wear masks and we are encouraging people to respect those requests and carry a mask with them whether they're vaccinated or not,” said county communications manager Paul Gullixson.
Is the pandemic over?
No, the pandemic is not over and new cases of COVID-19 continue to be detected in the community, though largely among the unvaccinated population under the age of 30.
As of Monday, county health officials said the local virus transmission rate was 4.4 new daily cases per 100,000 residents. That’s about double what it was several weeks ago when it got close to 2 cases per 100,000, but it’s far less level of transmission during the winter surge.
Local health officials said Monday that 86.5% of new cases in the past 60 days have occurred among those who have not been vaccinated.
How are businesses adapting to the reopening?
To state it simply, many are doing so at their own own pace, while juggling a number of factors, including staffing levels, accommodations for employees and customers and modifications made to business space because of the pandemic.
Toraj Soltani, owner of Mac's Deli & Cafe in downtown Santa Rosa, said Tuesday will not bring any huge changes. He’ll still be seating customers every other table, but not because of public health precautions.
“We just don’t have the staff to expand right now,“ Soltani said, adding that it will likely be another month before he can expand his staff to accommodate full capacity at the restaurant.
Normally, he has four servers, three cooks and three dishwashers. Currently, he has two cooks and three servers. “The only thing that will change is customers who are vaccinated don’t have to wear a mask in the restaurant,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or email@example.com. On Twitter @pressreno.