LOS ANGELES — On a scorching day, cable car bells rang, Minions, danced, and restaurant diners drank their beverages indoors as California’s economy reopened after 15 months of coronavirus restrictions.
Restaurants and other establishments throughout the state flung open their doors wide on Tuesday, allowing fully vaccinated customers to discard their masks as the state terminated its color-coded COVID-19 restriction levels amid a drop in infections and growing vaccination rates.
“California has reached the end of the road. Let us all rejoice at this historic achievement,” an ecstatic and mask-free Gov. Gavin Newsom announced from an outdoor platform at Universal Studios Hollywood, where he hosted a game show-style selection of ten citizens who would each earn $1.5 million for just being vaccinated. “Today is a day for strangers, loved ones, and family members to reconnect. Give hugs to everyone.”
During the celebrations, life-sized Minions, Avengers, and other movie mascots danced and applauded.
California was the first state in the US to declare a coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, and it was one of the last to fully reopen after combating a COVID-19 outbreak that killed hundreds per day through the autumn and winter.
The reopening was justified, according to Newsom, since more than 40 million doses of vaccine were delivered — to more than 70% of the state’s adults — and the resultant drop in cases. California presently has one of the lowest infection rates in the US, at less than 1%.
Physical separation or capacity limitations in restaurants, bars, supermarkets, gyms, museums, amusement parks, stadiums, and elsewhere were repealed by the state.
In most places, masks are no longer required for vaccinated persons, however, companies and counties might still require them and impose other restrictions. When it comes to assessing whether or not customers have been vaccinated, several firms have said that they would rely on the honor system.
Exuberance greeted the reopening, especially on a day when many parts of the state experienced scorching temperatures outside and interior air conditioning beckoned. However, it sparked caution from those who are well aware that millions of people have yet to receive their vaccinations and that the coronavirus is far from eliminated.
During the pandemic, more individuals tested positive with the virus (3.8 million and counting) and died (63,000+) in California than anyplace else in the country, despite the fact that the nation’s most populated state had a lower per capita mortality rate than most others.
A minute of quiet was observed in Los Angeles to remember people who died as a result of the epidemic, and county health director Barbara Ferrer advised the unvaccinated to “be extremely vigilant” and wear masks in public places.
Even though there is no officially authorized vaccination for small children, many museums nevertheless demand masks.
Poonam Rai wore a yellow medical mask as she walked out of a downtown Sacramento coffee shop on Tuesday, and she said she’ll keep it on for the time being. She works in health care and wants to ensure that unvaccinated individuals are protected.
She stated, “As of today, I’m still doing the same things I was yesterday.”
Judy Bratman, 65, a visitor from Los Angeles, said as she watched her adult daughter practice in a boxing ring, “I’m just taking tippy toes.”
Nonetheless, it was a day of hope for firms that had been hampered by regulations.
Dodger Stadium, where the Dodgers played the Phillies in a night game, removed its capacity restrictions and looked forward to replacing cardboard cutouts of spectators in the seats with real people. The Dodgers got their wish, with a sell-out crowd of more than 52,000 people attending the game, making it the highest turnout for a professional sports league event in the United States since the outbreak began.
Before the game, LA third baseman Justin Turner stated, “I think we’re all thrilled to fill the stadium and get that excitement back in this town.” “It’s something we get a kick out of.”
For the first time since it shuttered in March 2020, Disneyland welcomed back out-of-state tourists. It was closed for months before reopening to California residents exclusively this spring. Many additional limitations, such as temperature checks and facial coverings for vaccinated visitors, will be lifted as well.
Mayor London Breed of San Francisco said that the city’s iconic cable cars, which were shut down at the onset of the epidemic, will resume service in August and trips would be free for the whole month.
The city’s COVID-19 case rate is 17 percent lower than the state’s, and infection rates have dropped dramatically.
Breed stated, “We are here because the people of this city joined together like never before to make this a reality.” “We made it through. We saved lives, and we should be very proud of what we accomplished.”