Mr. Newsom is facing a recall campaign. The attempt to oust him — a Democratic governor in a blue state who was elected in 2018 in a landslide — defied even the expectations of its Republican backers by qualifying for the ballot.
Speaking without a face covering at Universal Studios, Mr. Newsom said it was time “to move beyond capacity limits, to move beyond these color codings, move beyond social distancing and physical distancing, and — yes, as you saw me walk up to the stage — to move beyond mask coverings.”
“Today is a day to reconnect — to give people hugs, to remind them we’re not out of the woods yet, to remind them we’re all in this together,” the governor said. “California is open again.”
Still, some public health experts expressed concerns about a fuller reopening as the pace of vaccinations has slowed substantially in recent weeks, say that it was critical to increase the vaccination rate before the fall, when more people are indoors.
“My worry is whether this will erode the momentum of getting more people vaccinated,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. “I worry people are going to think this is behind us.”
Others, however, said abandoning restrictions was merited, given the improving infection and hospitalization rates, but, most importantly, the number of people that have been vaccinated.
Dr. Kitaw Demissie, the dean of the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, said that reaching a 70 percent vaccination rate represented a real public health success.
“Seventy percent is really good in my opinion,” he said, estimating that at least another 10 percent of people in New York City had immunity from prior infection. “So that will take us probably to 80 or 85 percent immunity.”
Luis Ferré-Sadurní reported from New York City and Shawn Hubler reported from Sacramento, Calif. Joseph Goldstein, Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan contributed reporting.