June 15, 2021, marks the end of many tight pandemic restrictions for vaccinated individuals in the state of California – including those found at Universal Studios Hollywood – such as mask mandates, out-of-state visitor restrictions, capacity limits, and social distancing requirements.

To celebrate California’s progress in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of efficient vaccines after a devastating winter of case surges, California Governor Gavin Newsom visited Universal Studios Hollywood to deliver a speech alongside a handful of other public figures and invited guests, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Senator Robert Hertzberg, and the first person in California to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Helen Cordova, among others.

The Governor addressed the many challenges the state of California – and Los Angeles County in particular – has faced among its once high case positivity rate and alarming number of hospitalizations and deaths, though asserted with cautious optimism that the current upward progress will likely continue if individuals opt to get vaccinated either now or when a vaccine is available for them. To provide an extra incentive for those who are hesitant, California is currently holding a regular “Vax for the Win” lottery in which any vaccinated person may be chosen to win a cash prize – and ten more winners were chosen at this event alone.

Though the date of June 15 may sound arbitrary to many, Governor Newsom explained that it signifies a significant turning point of regrowth for the economy and overall livelihood of California – including businesses such as theme parks that have been heavily subject to restrictions – which is currently projected to continue progressing on a positive note from now onwards.

Of course, one simply could not celebrate all this progress at Universal Studios Hollywood without the appearance of many guest-favorite theme park characters, including Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, Minions, Trolls, Shrek, and the baby velociraptor with its trainer from Jurassic World. The event concluded with a burst of confetti and smiles all around, a sense of genuine optimism abundant among the crowd; a sensation like no other after over a year dominated by pessimistic thinking for many.

As we all celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel for many in the state of California, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge all of those who have lost their lives or loved ones to the virus, as well as the other people and countries around the world still struggling to combat COVID-19 and the concurrent devastating economic impact that comes along with it. We also thank all the frontline workers who have repeatedly risked their own lives to save others and helped us get to the brighter point that we have fought to arrive at today.

Inside Universal graciously thanks Universal Studios Hollywood for inviting us out to witness this momentous occasion, and we look forward to more sunny days ahead.

You can watch the full press conference below: