SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued the broadest loosening of his stay-at-home order so far, allowing some retailers to reopen but not have customers in stores.
The announcement Thursday was the result of improvement in battling the coronavirus, and it moves California into the second phase of a methodical four-step process to full reopening. It covers only a sliver of retail businesses as well as manufacturers' warehouses considered low risk for the virus.
Stores that will be allowed to open with curbside service if they meet other safety requirements include bookstores, clothing stores, florists and sporting goods stores.
Higher-risk businesses like hair salons and gyms, offices and dining in restaurants will come later. Newsom is expected to share further guidelines for dine-in restaurants early next week.
Newsom’s plan may allow some local governments to move faster than the state if they hit certain criteria. Counties must show they can meet certain testing and tracing requirements and that their health care systems can handle a potential surge. Some counties have already moved ahead with broader reopenings in violation of the state’s order.
Since the stay-at-home order was issued on March 19, more than 4 million people have been put out of work in the nation’s most populous state. Thursday, several dozen protesters at the state Capitol carried signs that read: “My rights don’t end where your fears begin.” Last week, hundreds of people swarmed the Capitol in a much larger protest that included more than 30 arrests.
Newsom has said repeatedly he won’t bow to political or economic pressure to reopen the state and will instead rely on a four-step plan driven by science and data. Thursday began phase two. The next phase, which could reopen salons, gyms, movie theaters and in-person church services, could be months away. Phase four would end all restrictions and allow for large gatherings at concerts and sporting events.
The Newsom administration is tracking six indicators to determine when to ease restrictions. They include the state’s ability to test people for COVID-19 and trace who might have been exposed to it, and the capacity of hospitals to handle a potential surge of new cases.
So far, Newsom has said the state is on track to meet its goals.
Three Northern California counties with few confirmed COVID-19 cases have already allowed a variety of businesses to reopen. Tiny Modoc County permitted its only movie theater to open. Yuba and Sutter counties allowed in-store shopping and the restarting of gyms and fitness studios, salons, spas, tattoo parlors, libraries and playgrounds.
Click Here to watch a recap of the governor's announcement.