Gov. Newsom Announces Four Phases to Reopen California Businesses, Schools

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Main News Photo

(Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Gavin Newsom on April 28 laid out a vision of how California's businesses, schools, and childcare facilities may be allowed to slowly reopen amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The state plans to reopen those sectors in four stages, as described by Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell:

Stage 1: Everyone is either staying at home or a member of the essential workforce. This is the stage we are in now and will stay in until a modification to the statewide stay-at-home order.

Stage 2: Reopening lower risk workplaces, including:

  • Non-essential manufacturing (toys, furniture, clothing, etc.)
  • Schools
  • Childcare facilities
  • Retail businesses for curbside pick-up
  • Offices where working remotely isn't possible but can be modified to make the environment safer for employees

Stage 3: Reopening higher risk workplaces, which require close proximity to other people, including:

  • Hair salons
  • Nail salons
  • Gyms
  • Movie theaters
  • Sporting events without live audiences
  • In-person religious services (churches and weddings)

Stage 4: Ending the stay-at-home order, which would allow for the reopening of:

  • Concert venues
  • Convention centers
  • Sporting events with live audiences

On the question of when we may be able to move from the first stage to the second, Newsom said he believes we are "weeks, not months away." Stage 3 and 4, however, are "months, not weeks" in the future.

Moving into Stage 2 will require a modification of the statewide stay-at-home order, but once we enter the second stage, local governments will have more options. At that point, counties will be allowed to relax restrictions more quickly or more slowly, based on conditions at the local level.

Newsom acknowledged that as schools remain closed, there is a "learning loss" for California's students. To make up for some of that lost time, the governor said the state is considering starting the 2020-2021 school year earlier. Schools may reopen as early as late July or early August, the governor said, though no decision has been made yet.

In order to work toward Stage 2 of reopening, Dr. Angell said the state is continuing to monitor hospitalization rates to ensure they stay stable. In the meantime, they also need to ensure there's an adequate social safety net that allows workers to stay home if they're feeling sick. Businesses also need to have plans to make workplaces safer for employees when they are allowed to return. Even during Stage 2, people should continue to work remotely if possible, continue physical distancing, and wear face coverings when appropriate.

In order to move into Stage 4, where stay-at-home restrictions are lifted and people will be allowed to come together in large numbers, therapeutics will need to be in place, Dr. Angell said.

"This is going to be a while, but there are ways we can modify the way we move around in our environment that will make it more possible (to reopen)," she said.

The governor says the state is continuing to monitor six key criteria on the path to reopening:

  • Expanding testing and doing contact tracing for those who test positive.
  • Being able to protect California's most vulnerable populations, including seniors, homeless individuals, and those with compromised immunity.
  • Ensuring medical facilities are equipped to handle potential surges.
  • Working with research hospitals and other research partners to pursue therapies for the virus.
  • Making sure businesses, schools, and other public spaces can continue physical distancing.
  • Being able to return to more strict measures, as needed.

Last week, the governor did a deep dive into the state's progress on the first criteria: testing and contact tracing.

"Politics will not drive our decision making. Protests will not drive our decision making. Political pressure will not drive our decision making," Gov. Newsom said. "The science, data, and public health will drive our decision making."

Category: COVID-19