California will move into Stage 2 of the state’s reopening plan by the end of this week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced during a press conference Monday.
“On Friday I said we were days not weeks from announcing modifications to the stay-at-home order, and today we are announcing our efforts to update the stay-at-home guidelines and begin the process of moving to Stage 2,” he said.
The new guidelines for Stage 2 — which allow for the return of retail, manufacturing, and other “low-risk” businesses — will be released Thursday, and businesses can start reopening Friday if new physical-distancing measures are implemented.
“As early as by end of this week, you will have the capacity as retailer to begin to reopen for pickup: clothing, bookstores, music shops, sporting goods, florists as Mother’s Day approaches and other sectors within that retail sector,” Newsom said.
However, these activities are still prohibited under the Bay Area’s updated shelter-in-place order, and Newsom said the region “has the right” to enforce its stricter order that allows for the return of outdoor businesses and activities, but not retail.
“The Bay Area has guidelines that are a little more strict,” he said. “If they choose to not come into compliance, they have that right.”
In a Monday afternoon press conference, San Francisco Mayor London Breed acknowledged Governor Newsom’s announcement but said the city is currently focused on observing the social distancing success of outdoor businesses that have been allowed to reopen to inform whether San Francisco will take further steps to reopen.
“The health directive has everything to do with limiting our ability to be in contact with people so we can avoid not only transmitting the virus, but we also realize there are a number of people out there struggling financially,” Breed said. “If there is a way to accommodate the public health goal of keeping people safe while allowing businesses to operate but to operate differently with certain guidelines, we can definitely work together to achieve that goal and get to a better place.”
Breed added that San Francisco would be working with the governor towards a Phase 2 plan, and identifying retailers that could be open in collaboration with local health officers. Specifically, she mentioned that the city was looking at options for restaurants and gyms.
“Can we say definitively those businesses will be open Friday? No we can’t,” she said. “It’s important we rely on the facts, the data, that we rely on the advice of our county health officers so as we push to do these things, we do so responsibly. And we want to also give businesses time to know exactly what’s expected and to know what are the things they need to prepare for as they reopen.”
Newsom also stated that rural counties have the right to move “deeper” into Phase 2 and reopen restaurants, offices, shopping malls and other businesses if they meet criteria the state releases Thursday. The governor also stated there could be “unfortunate consequences” for businesses that reopen across the state without receiving approval, but did not elaborate on what those consequences might be.
Modoc, Yuba and Sutter counties have already moved towards reopening a number of businesses in spite of the state order.
Today, the Bay Area permitted outdoor businesses such as construction, landscaping and golf courses to reopen, but left retail off the list. The local order provides that if any provision comes into conflict with the state order, the stricter order will apply.