NAPA — California will loosen key standards for counties seeking to reopen their economies faster, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday.
All but five of California’s 58 counties — including Madera County — will qualify for a variance from the statewide stay-at-home order through the new rules, though not all may choose to seek one, the governor said.
Madera County officials sent a letter to the governor last week requesting the county be allowed to move more quickly to reopen its economy.
“The bottom line is people can go at their own pace, and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials who understand their local communities and conditions better than anyone,” Newsom said during a visit to a restaurant in the heart of California’s wine country.
The revised rules will allow restaurant dining rooms and shopping malls to open again in counties that meet the new criteria. Harder hit counties like Los Angeles and Tulare are expected to remain under stay-at-home orders longer as cases there continue to surge.
On Monday, the governor also hinted that even bigger changes envisioned in later stages of reopening are likely to be OK’d more quickly, including spectator-free sporting events as soon as the first week in June when the state could move into the third phase of the four-phased reopening plan.
Under the revised framework counties must show that their hospitalization rates remain stable and the number of coronavirus patients has not increased by more than 5 percent over the past seven days.
Smaller counties must not have had more than 20 patients on any given day for at least two weeks.
Counties that want to apply to the state to receive a variance from the statewide stay-at-home order must also meet one of two other requirements: either they have had fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 residents for at least 14 days, or the rate of positive coronavirus tests has dropped below 8 percent, the governor said.
Mariposa County was given approval by the governor’s office to move into Phase 2.5 of reopening last week and with Madera County now meeting the governor’s revised new standards, county health officials are expected to announce their own blueprint for reopening soon.