What will the new normal look like in Claremont?
by Steven Felschundneff | firstname.lastname@example.org
This week the state of California took the largest step yet in returning to “normal” pre-pandemic life, but what will that actually look like here in Claremont?
First, you no longer have to wear a mask outdoors in the city, including in the special “mask zones” that were created when the Claremont City Council passed its mask ordinance last year.
This means a shopping trip to the Village or a hike in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park can be a mask-free experience for the first time in 15 months. Many individual businesses, however, will continue to require face coverings, so it’s best to keep one handy.
Since Tuesday, fully vaccinated people can go about their business maskless in most situations, but will still have to don face coverings on public transit including trains, buses and even ride share vehicles. Masks will also be required at transit stations such as the Metrolink platform in the Village.
Other settings where masking will still be mandated include K-12 schools, healthcare settings like nursing homes, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and cooling centers.
People who are unvaccinated will still have to wear masks and socially distance, although there is no realistic way to police this requirement in a general sense. Any business or organization can require proof of inoculation, but many have indicated that simply showing up bare faced will “self attest” full vaccination status.
The new health officer order also lifts capacity limitations and distancing requirements at most businesses. Specific requirements will continue for large capacity events, schools, daycare facilities, day camps, high-risk congregate settings and health care facilities. The county will also lift current travel restrictions.
For indoor mega-events—those with over 5,000 people—all attendees must verify full vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 72 hours. For outdoor events with over 10,000 attendees, vaccination status and negative test would be recommended but not required, although attendees who do not verify their status will be required to wear masks.
Scott Feemster, general manager of Some Crust Bakery told the COURIER on Monday that he is waiting for guidance from L.A. County Public Health and California Division of Occupational Safety & Health before making a decision on whether to allow customers into the bakery without a mask. Cal OSHA officials were expected to meet to formulate new workplace rules.
“We don’t have much clarity right now so until we hear from the county and Cal OSHA it’s going to be status quo,” Mr. Feemster said. “It kind of puts us between a rock and a hard place.”
For the time being the bakery will continue to let only a few customers into the store at a time and masks will be required. “Our customers have been pretty good about wearing masks, every once in awhile you have to remind someone,” he said.
Employees will definitely continue to mask up at least until the end of the month, in part because his staff is not 100 percent vaccinated.
Still, there is a general air of relief in Claremont and Mr. Feemster said that Some Crust has been busy lately making cakes for recent graduates as well as for people just genuinely happy to be done with the COVID-19 restrictions. “Things are opening up and people are celebrating,” he said.
The state has put retailers large and small in a tough spot because the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board did not vote on new workplace guidelines until Thursday, with an expected implementation of June 28, leaving employers in limbo. If passed, the ruling will allow fully vaccinated employees to be maskless at work and eliminate social distancing requirements at many businesses.
On Monday, Claremont’s Public Information Officer Bevin Handel said masks will still be required at Claremont City Hall, the Hughes Center and other city facilities until the guidance from the state is formalized.
The Claremont Club sent a notification to members that masks are no longer required for vaccinated individuals and that the new order from the county “marks the end of our club capacity limitations.” The Club will also reopen its locker rooms including the showers and saunas.
City maintenance worker Rob Verboys was busy Monday morning taking down the mask ordinance signs around Claremont. He retrieved a few smaller signs from Shelton Park while a group of young mothers enjoyed the warm late spring weather with their children.
He then traveled to the Wilderness Park where volunteer ranger Richard Weiner was already busy taking down the large coronavirus related banners mounted on a fence adjacent to the south parking lot. When that was done, the pair then moved to the trail head where a number of similar banners needed to be removed.
Upland residents C. J. and Kristin Davis were just finishing a morning walk, and when they saw the banners coming down they both stopped and cheered.
“I’m excited for that to go away,” Ms. Davis said, after remarking that it’s hard to breathe when exercising with a mask on. Another park visitor asked if he still needed his face covering. “It’s not required anymore, the signs are down,” Mr. Weiner replied.