Starting Tuesday businesses across Santa Monica can reopen to 100 percent capacity and masking becomes optional for vaccinated residents in most settings.
“With an astounding 76 percent of the Santa Monica community vaccinated, we are in a strong position to welcome the full re-opening of the state’s economy today,” said Susan Cline, acting assistant city manager.
June 15 marks a significant milestone in the County’s recovery process, but uncertainty remains over workplace guidelines and to what degree business owners will ask patrons to wear masks.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the State’s Health and Human Services Secretary, outlined three mask policies businesses can choose to adopt going forward. They can require all patrons to continue wearing masks, they can ask for proof of vaccination, or they can rely on an honor system where people self-attest their vaccination status.
“If somebody comes into their business or their operation without a mask, it should be considered as self attestation for someone being vaccinated,” said Ghaly. “We are not requiring businesses to have somebody at the door checking for vaccine status as a way to comply with this.”
Masks will still be required for all individuals in certain settings. These include indoors at K-12 schools and childcare facilities; all health care settings and long term care facilities; on public transit like planes, buses and ride-shares; at transport hubs like airports and bus stations; and at detention centers and homeless shelters.
Locally, time will reveal to what degree people — patrons, business owners and employees — feel comfortable ditching the mask.
“Who really knows if the customers will come back in force or still be scared to go out?” said Steve Lieberman, Owner of Downtown gastropub West 4th and Jane. “As for masks, it will be up to the customers to wear or not wear them. My staff will probably still wear them to help with customers’ level of comfort.”
Santa Monica Brew Works will also be following the honor system. They will allow vaccinated guests to decide whether they want to wear a mask and will ask unvaccinated guests to continue wearing a mask at all times except while seated.
On the subject of masks, the owner of Heroic Italian Jeffrey Merrihue said, “we will not lead the way but will ease off as we see what customers want.”
The City of Santa Monica is awaiting further guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to determine how its operations will change in the coming weeks. However, there are still several confirmed amenities reopening from Tuesday onwards.
Splash pads will be springing back to life at the Annenberg Community Beach House and at Tongva and Virginia Avenue Parks. Annenberg will also be reopening its courtyard and resuming stand up paddle board rentals.
“Residents should expect gradual changes to City programs as COVID-19 safety requirements are modified,” said Cline. “We will share that information when it becomes available and look forward to supporting a safe and fun summer in Santa Monica for our residents, businesses, and all who come to enjoy this very special place.”
Businesses are awaiting further guidance from the state on how they should regulate employee mask wearing.
Initially, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed directive required all employees to wear masks if one or more employees was unvaccinated. Last week, OSHA released updated guidance saying vaccinated workers would not need to wear a mask if they show their employer proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated workers would still need to wear a mask.
This situation has created confusion for many business owners.
“There’s not much direct information on what today (June 15) brings, which I hoped would have more clarity,” said Lieberman.
The state’s OSHA Board is expected to approve the updated regulations on Thursday and Governor Newsom said he would be willing to issue an executive order to implement them immediately.