Update 6:25 p.m.
As California prepares to enter the first phase of its economic reopening, the state released new guidelines Thursday, both for businesses wanting to expand operations and for counties looking to loosen restrictions on residents.
Moving into phase two “does not mean a return to normal,” said California Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “We know that COVID-19 is still spreading.”
Beginning Friday, some businesses in the retail, manufacturing and logistics sectors will be allowed to reopen, though retail stores can only provide curbside services.
Businesses have to meet a checklist before reopening. It includes:
- Performing a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan
- Training employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them
- Implementing individual control measures and screenings
- Implementing disinfecting protocols
- Implementing physical distancing guidelines
Businesses will have to meet certain industry guidelines for COVID-19 safety as well. The guidelines instruct manufacturers to limit person-to-person contact during production by installing shelving or other “transfer-aiding materials,” for example.
Retailers are encouraged to prioritize product delivery and pickup. They are also instructed to cut in-store maximum occupancy numbers by half.
Still, some businesses are still being expressly prohibited from reopening during phase two, including bars, gyms, nail salons, movie theaters and theme parks.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said there’s a reason nail salons are not included in phase two: “This whole thing started in the state of California — the first community spread — in a nail salon,” he said.
The infection happened despite sanitation measures normally seen in nail salons, including alcohol-based products and nail technicians wearing masks and gloves.
“I’m very worried about that,” Newsom said.
How counties can get approval to reopen
While some counties have pressured the governor to allow them to reopen their local economies more broadly, others — including Yuba, Sutter and Modoc counties — didn’t wait for permission.
Counties and their local health officers are now being given latitude to allow some other sectors to reopen, including malls, car washes, pet grooming, offices and dine-in restaurants — if they meet strict criteria.
It includes additional surge capacity in local hospitals, the ability to conduct a minimum 15 tests per 100,000 residents daily and going 14 days without a COVID-19 death in the county, among other things.
It could be a long time before more populous counties get there. Dr Peter Beilenson, director of health services in Sacramento County, said the county meets all criteria except for that and having enough contact tracers (15 tracers per 100,000 county residents).
“We expect to have the appropriate amount of contact tracing staff within the next two weeks,” Beilenson said in a statement to CapRadio. “In the meantime, we encourage everyone to continue following the safe social distancing and other guidelines provided in the Public Health Order.”
Counties that do meet the criteria must consult with the California Department of Public Health and submit their own local reopening plans to the state. Those plans must include what sectors and public spaces the county will allow to reopen, and a contingency plan for modifying local health orders if the disease begins to spread.
Last month, Newsom unveiled six key indicators that will help him decide when to move the state into each new phase of reopening. They include the state’s testing capacity, hospitalization rates and ability for businesses and public spaces to implement health measures like sanitation and social distancing, among other things.
The governor noted that he may tighten the statewide stay-at-home order again if the disease begins spreading as restrictions loosen.
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