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Morning Lookout: The day we’ve all been waiting for!

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, June 15 and it’ll be a sunny day with a high of 81. Today will be the first of a few days of high temperatures as we see a heatwave over much of California and other western states. While Santa Cruz County won’t likely see triple-digit heat, we are expecting some low 90s later this week, according to the National Weather Service.

It’s a momentous day for Californians as we wake up to most covid-related restrictions being lifted for the first time in months. However, while it may feel like the pandemic is over, local public health officials held a press briefing yesterday to ask Santa Cruzans to continue to be cautious as vaccination rates in parts of the county have been lagging. Meanwhile, though lifted restrictions will certainly help, local business owners are faced with a slew of problems that will continue to be a challenge as they look to recovery.

There’s a lot to chew on so let’s get to it:

The rules, the risk, the freedom: Everything you need to know about California reopening

A young woman's mask rests under her neck, while a woman walking with her holds her mask in her hand

Today marks a new era for California: At 12:01 a.m., the state rescinded most COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions that we have been living under for more than a year. To help you navigate today and life returning to normal, our partners in LA broke down the changes that went into effect today. The story includes:

  • Mask rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • Where masking rules will still apply
  • Vaccine passports and documentation
  • Occupancy restrictions at restaurants, theme parks and others
  • When winners of the state vaccine lottery will be awarded

Find all your answers here.

A family walks on a Santa Cruz County beach in masks.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

What Santa Cruz County officials want you to know ahead of today’s reopening: Local officials reminded the public during yesterday’s news conference that while the pandemic is entering a new phase, this is likely not the final chapter. They noted that despite significant progress in vaccine distribution, many people in the community have not been vaccinated, which could become a vulnerability if local infection numbers begin to rise again. Read more from our Mallory Pickett here.

THE HERE & NOW: Here comes ‘Super Tuesday’: Will we magically transport back to a 2019 existence on June 15? (Wallace Baine)

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about COVID-19 as California reopens (CalMatters)

An end to the pandemic hangover? Local businesses brace for what’s next, try to put ‘smiles back on faces’

The Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
(Via Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk)

Local businesses and hotels are seeing an uptick in travel, business ahead of the state’s reopening on Tuesday, but some lingering pandemic aftereffects remain that will still need sorting out. Our Neil Strebig talked to local business owners across the hospitality and service industry. Here are the challenges they face and plans to reopen as restrictions are finally lifted today.

Santa Cruz sites honoring London Nelson will get correct spelling in time for Juneteenth

London Nelson's grave in Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz.
(Via the MAH)

A decades-old spelling error on Santa Cruz landmarks and sites honoring London Nelson — a freed slave who made significant contributions to the city’s school district — is set to be corrected in time for this year’s Juneteenth celebration. Read more from our Patrick Riley here.

Around the state...

Marijuana growing in a steel-frame greenhouse at Brand Farms in Carpinteria
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

California offers $100 million to rescue its struggling legal marijuana industry: The California Legislature approved a $100-million plan yesterday to bolster California’s legal cannabis industry, which continues to struggle to compete with the large illicit pot market nearly five years after voters approved sales for recreational use. Read more from the LA Times here.

A Fresno-area politician wants California to prioritize struggling San Joaquin Valley farmworkers

Universal basic income for farmworkers? Some leaders are pushing for it: A Fresno-area politician wants California to prioritize struggling farmworkers in a proposed Universal Basic Income pilot program that would put cash in the hands of some of the state’s impoverished residents. The letter also urges the governor to provide supplemental guaranteed income for the state’s farmworkers that face reduced hours, unemployment, and displacement due to the worsening drought. Read more from our partners at CalMatters here.

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

In recognition of UC Santa Cruz’s 2021 commencement, we present a few of our amazing grads. These scholars represent the...

Around the county...

Santa Cruz ‘homeless hacker’ extradited from Mexico on decade-old case (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

South County vaccinations lag as state readies to remove restrictions (The Pajaronian)

GO Santa Cruz scales up incentives for alternative commuting countywide (Good Times)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying our coverage, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters and alerts we offer. You can also keep tabs on everything we’re publishing through the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor