California to Let Some Businesses Reopen With Restrictions

May 4, 2020 Updated: May 5, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that some businesses in the state will be allowed to reopen as early as Friday albeit with social distancing restrictions in place as part of efforts to still curb the spread of the CCP virus while allowing the economy to recover.

“We are entering into the next phase this week, end of the week,” Newsom said at a press conference. “With modifications, we will allow retail to start operating across the spectrum.”

The announcement applies to retail businesses that are deemed “low-risk,” such as stores selling clothes, sporting goods, florists, books, musical instruments, and toys. They will be allowed to operate with curb-side pickup, Newsom said. Offices are still not allowed to be reopened and dine-in eating at restaurants is still prohibited.

The move marks the second phase of Newsom’s four-phase plan (pdf) to ease restrictions in the nation’s most populous state.

Newsom first issued a statewide “stay at home” order on March 19—also the first phase of the governor’s plan—which required some 40 million residents across 58 counties to remain mostly at home, except for essential activities.

Entering the second phase of reopening is now possible because testing in California has increased to more than 25,000 people a day, and new cases of infections are no longer on the rise, Newsom said. He added that another key consideration in loosening restrictions is the ability of health authorities to contact trace infections.

Some counties can further lift restrictions if they meet certain testing and protection guidelines, the governor added.

“This is an optimistic day, as we see a little bit of a ray of sunshine,” Newsom said.

California has reported 2,254 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, and 54,937 cases.

Three counties had already begun reopening some retail businesses by the time of Newsom’s latest announcement, defying the governor’s statewide stay-at-home order.

Yuba and Sutter counties allowed “lower risk” businesses to reopen on Monday, according to an announcement on May 1 by the Yuba-Sutter health officer (pdf).

The two counties have a combined population of around 173,000 and reported 50 CCP virus cases and three deaths as of late Monday.

Rural Modoc County in Northern California on May 1 became the first county in California to allow all nonessential businesses, schools, and public transit companies to resume operations.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy