Amid more defiance from local governments, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that some businesses can reopen as early as Friday with restrictions to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.
The plan under the second phase of the governor’s four-point reopening plan allows retailers such as clothing stores, sporting goods and florists to resume operations with curbside pickup.
It did not immediately include dine-in eating at restaurants and reopening of offices, which were in previously stated Phase 2 plans.
Newsom said a key consideration for entering Phase 2 is the ability for health authorities to test and conduct contact tracing of infections.
The announcement came as businesses in two more Northern California counties reopened. Yuba and Sutter counties followed last week’s lead of rural Modoc County amid pressure to restart California’s economy, even as hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue.
Newsom’s six-week-old order required nearly 40 million residents to remain mostly at home.
Sutter and Yuba counties allowed restaurants, retailers, shopping malls, gyms, salons, libraries and even tattoo parlors to reopen, but only if they limit the number of people inside and enforce physical distancing.
Sutter County Supervisor Dan Flores said the decision was made by the counties’ shared health officer, Dr. Phuong Luu. Flores says county leaders have tried many times in vain to get the Newsom administration to review their plan.
More than 2,200 Californians have died from the coronavirus and nearly 55,000 have been confirmed to have it, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because of a shortage of testing.
On Monday, Newsom’s administration approved the reopening of beaches in the Orange County cities of Laguna Beach and San Clemente. The state Natural Resources Agency said the cities submitted plans with measures to avoid overcrowding and enable physical distancing.
The approvals came days after Newsom ordered all Orange County beaches closed because of large crowds that flocked there during a heat wave late last month. Some people still tried to go to the off-limits beaches this past weekend.
In northeast California, Modoc County Sheriff Tex Dowdy said the zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the county’s 9,000 residents was a deciding factor in allowing a “staged, safe” reopening last Friday.
Yuba and Sutter counties, north of Sacramento, are much bigger with a combined population of about 175,000 people — many of whom commute to jobs in the capital region. The counties have seen 50 confirmed cases of the disease and three deaths.
Jesse Villicana, owner of Cool Hand Luke’s steakhouse in Yuba City, said 25 employees who were laid off returned to work Sunday to help prepare for the reopening. He was eager to welcome customers back into the bar and dining room but wary of the slow return to business as usual. Customers must sit a booth apart, meaning he can only fill half of the restaurant.
For the vast majority of people, coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The virus can be spread in close quarters by people who don’t know they’ve contracted it.