LOS ANGELES - Editor’s Note: This article has been updated after Newsom made public statements Wednesday indicating that mask mandates would only be lifted for outdoor settings on June 15.
In an exclusive one-on-one interview with FOX 11, Governor Gavin Newsom told Elex Michaelson that the state's mask mandate could be rolled back soon. The news made national headlines but now the governor is clarifying his comments.
He initially said that if the state does lift coronavirus tier restrictions on June 15, the date Newsom previously set to fully reopen California's economy, the mask mandate would be lifted too, aside from large indoor gatherings.
However, the governor added some more context to that statement Wednesday.
"We will be updating our mask guidelines. Outdoor masking, if we reach that threshold, will be substantially — in fact, will be eliminated," Newsom said. "Indoor activities, we will still likely have some mask guidelines and mandates but we hope sooner than later that those will be lifted as well."
The governor did not provide specific details on the policies but said the state health department would soon.
In Newsom's initial interview with FOX 11, Michaelson asked the governor, "Are we looking at masks after June 15?"
To which Newsom replied, "No. Only in those settings that are indoor. Only in those massively large settings, where people — from around the world, not just around the country — are convening, and where people are mixing in real dense spaces."
"Otherwise, we’ll make guidance, recommendations, but no mandates and no restrictions," the governor continued.
In that initial interview, Newsom did note some exceptions: "Huge large-scale indoor convention events where we'll use our common sense."
In early April, Newsom said he aimed to fully open the state's economy by June 15 if vaccine supply was sufficient for Californians 16 years and older who wished to get vaccinated and if hospitalization rates remained low and stable.
However, back in April, Newsom also said there would likely be some form of mask mandate, even if businesses could open at full capacity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its mask guidance, stating that fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing.
The CDC did, however, continue to recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public.
A growing number of health experts have increasingly signaled that federal recommendations on masks may loosen in the coming weeks to better reflect lower risk levels as COVID-19 case rates drop across the United States.
There also is growing evidence that the outdoor spread of the coronavirus is far rarer than indoor transmission.