SACRAMENTO — At a press conference Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom and California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell outlined a broad plan to reopen the state’s economy in four phases, including the limited reintroduction of in-room dining for restaurants and gradual restarts of other non-essential businesses like manufacturing, childcare facilities, retail, gyms and hair salons.
Newsom did not commit to an official reopening date but did say “we believe we are weeks, not months away, from making meaningful modifications” to the statewide stay-at-home directive issued on March 19.
The governor outlined four broad phases the state will need to work through during the pandemic, saying that the situation created by the current stay-at-home order represents phase one.
The decision to move into phase two will be driven by data provided by local and state health officials over the coming weeks, the governor said.
“As we move into phase two, where businesses can begin to reopen,” Newsom said, “we need to make sure that guidance is abided by, and is organized in a very deliberate way.”
Phase two reopenings would include so-called “lower-risk spaces” like restaurants and retail businesses, which could reopen sometime in the next few months as well as schools.
While most school districts around the state have already announced closures through the remainder of the current school year, Newsom also said Tuesday the state’s school leaders could could consider moving up the start of the 2020-21 school year to “July or early August.”
It remains crucial to “make the essential workforce environment as safe as possible” for both customers and employees before an official reopening rollout, said Dr. Angell, who voiced “cautious optimism” with regard to the current flattening of the coronavirus curve statewide, although nearly 1,900 residents around the state have been killed by COVID-19, including more than 60 Californians who died overnight.
Dr. Angell said that during phase two California counties “may choose to relax stricter local orders at their own pace.”
Both Newsom and Dr. Angell were cautious about the timing and rollout of the third phase of reopenings, which could require “significant modifications” before taking place, Newsom said.
Third phase businesses include “close-encounter” facilities like gyms and hair and nail salons as well as churches, synagogues and mosques. Phase three would also allow sporting events without live audiences.
The fourth phase would give the green light to resuming more normal gatherings at “larger public venues, concerts and events,” Newsom said.
But Newsom cautioned Tuesday that social distancing practices would be enforced well into the future — with implementation of phases three and four likely “months” rather than weeks away.