In briefings held on Tuesday and Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed guidelines for lower risk businesses to begin reopening on Friday, May 8.
Retail, Manufacturing, and Warehouses Re-opening
These lower risk businesses include retail, manufacturing, and warehouses, but all with particular modifications. Retail businesses, such as florists, clothing stores, bookstores, and sporting goods stores are allowed to reopen on Friday but strictly for curbside pick-up.
In Newsom’s Thursday briefing, he stated that this re-opening of retailers could look like employees delivering items to the vehicles of customers while wearing face masks and gloves. He also stated that retail businesses have been encouraged to implement hands free devices for payment or non-direct payment methods such as paying online. Additionally, retail businesses have been told that they will need to have hand sanitizer accessible to both employees and to customers visiting their stores.
Other businesses, such as manufacturers and warehouses, have also been allowed to reopen but with particular modifications. These modifications include allowing for social distancing amongst employees as well as the closure of break rooms and the creation of outdoor break areas with physically distanced seating. It also calls for warehouses make sanitation materials and personal protective equipment available to delivery drivers.
This reopening of lower risk businesses is all part of Phase II of Newsom’s four-phased approach to reopening the state of California. While in Phase II, Californians can expect to see a gradual reopening of other industries. Newsom says that they anticipate that California will “soon” be able to reopen offices (if telework is not available), dine-in restaurants with modifications, shopping malls (not just for pick-up), and outdoor museums all as part of Phase II.
Regional Variances as Cities and Counties Open Up
Additionally, Newsom stated that regional variances are allowed as each city and each county throughout the state has been affected on a different level by the coronavirus pandemic. While regional variances are allowed, each local government must be able to prove that they have met the following criteria in order to move further ahead in the reopening phases:
- Cities must have no more than 1 case per 10,000 people in their last 14 days;
- Cities must not have a COVID-19 death in the past 14 days;
- Essential workers must be able to be supported when sick or exposed;
- Essential workers must have accessibility to available disinfectant supplies and protective gear;
- Cities must have a minimum daily testing capacity of 1.5 per 1,000 residents;
- Cities must have have the capacity for at least 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents; and
- Cities must have the ability to temporarily house at least 15% of county residents experiencing homelessness.
Specific to county or regional hospitals, these hospitals must be able to do the following:
- Accommodate a minimum of a 35% surge; and
- Must have a robust plan to protect hospital workforce.
Specific to county vulnerable populations, skilled nursing facilities must have more than a 14 day supply of PPE on hand for staff with ongoing procurement from non-state supply chains.
And finally, each city or county must have metrics that serve as triggers for either slowing the pace through Phase II or tightening modifications.
Counties are allowed to move further into Phase II but only if and when they can attest that they meet the above California Public Health criteria.
A New Normal
Newsom reminded Californians that all decisions to modify the Stay-at-Home orders are based on science, data, and public health. This is not a “return to normal.” The coronavirus is still spreading. But this is a gradual reopening of businesses in which there is a lower risk of spread.