Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday outlined a cautious plan to reopen the virtually shuttered California economy in phases in the coming weeks as COVID-19 cases stabilize.
Newsom said we are “weeks, not months, away from making meaningful modifications,” as he broadly charted a four-stage comeback plan that included no timetable.
His plan comes amid mounting pressure to reopen the state, especially since hospitals have not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases – the original fear that rationalized shuttering the economy. Some other states are easing restrictions soon, and images over the weekend showing beachgoers in Orange and Ventura counties – which Newsom criticized on Tuesday – demonstrate that many people are ready to resume at least somewhat more normal activity.
Newsom said the first two phases involve reopening low-risk businesses and that we are in phase one now. He called for more curbside options for retailers and said manufacturers and small businesses with few on-site customers would be among the first to reopen.
The second phase – which he said will be “upon us, we believe, in the next few weeks” – might include allowing some K-12 schools to offer summer classes or consider an earlier start to the upcoming school year to make up for lost time. Such a plan could allow child-care facilities to resume operations.
He also said businesses that open must keep as many people as possible working from home. And employers must show they have created safe workplaces.
The third phase calls for opening somewhat higher-risk businesses such as hair and nail salons, and the fourth phase would pretty much resume normal life by allowing public gatherings such as sporting events, although that is likely months off.
He made clear that state officials, not local leaders, will decide when and how to proceed.