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Coronavirus Update: California Issues Guidelines For Reopening Businesses; Bay Area Counties Keep Stricter Rules

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom and Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly presented the guidelines of the government's second-phase plan for reopening businesses Thursday, providing more details for business owners on what would be required to get back to business beginning as soon as Friday.

In six Bay Area counties and in the City of Berkeley, however, current shelter-in-place guidelines were to remain in place through at least May 31 despite the changes to the state's order. While state health guidelines will allow more restaurants and retail stores to operate with curbside pickup and delivery, health officers from Berkeley and Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties will continue to prohibit curbside pick-up at non-essential, non-outdoor businesses.

Newsom said that discussion of the initially-proposed guidelines went through numerous revisions in the past few days based on input from the state's economic task force.

  • Click here to see the new guidance for Phase 2 reopening

As previously announced, the guidelines focused on reopening retail, manufacturing and logistics sectors of the economy. The success of the Phase 2 reopenings would also shape additional actions such as the possible reopening of outdoor museums and other outdoor businesses.

Dr. Ghaly outlined some of the specifics of the guidelines, noting several changes retailers, manufacturers and warehouses would need to follow.

Ghaly said that, beginning Friday, retailers could begin increasing pick-ups and deliveries while encouraging physical distancing. Devices that allow for hands-free operation should be installed for opening doors and other basic functions.

Manufacturers and warehouses were advised to close break rooms to discourage workers from congregating and set up outdoor break areas to allow for physical distancing.

Sanitizer dispensers and sanitizing materials like disinfecting wipes should be made widely available and used as much as needed. Personal protective equipment should also be used whenever needed, both inside businesses and during deliveries and pick up.

Dr. Ghaly emphasized that all industries were being advised to perform a detailed risk assessment and to tell all employees to keep an eye out for symptoms and stay home, if sick, to limit the spread of the coronavirus

Ghaly said businesses that will be opening later include those with offices that do not allow telework, restaurants with seated dining and shopping malls. Those sites would not be able to reopen until the health department is able to specify guidelines for operation.

"We know you're looking forward to that day of going to your favorite restaurant, get your favorite meal. Only when we can put out guidelines with specifications on how those restaurants are set up and don't have an increase spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Ghaly.

Ghaly acknowledged there will be regional differences in the phased reopening and said individual counties can move further into the second phase when they're able to attest to their readiness based on state public health criteria.

"We need to make sure that each county has the ability to understand their data and pull back from some of these modifications, slow down in some cases, re-institute those modifications again in other cases based on their data and their own county-wide situation," Ghaly said.

Dr. Ghaly also presented some criteria for counties that wish to move beyond the guidelines and restrictions outlined by the state. Those regions would need to have epidemiologic stability with no more than one case per 10,000 people in the past 14 days and no COVID-19 deaths over the same period.

They would also have to provide protection for all essential workers as far as being able to provide sufficient disinfectant supplies and PPE as well supporting any employees who get sick or exposed.

The county will also have to have a minimum daily testing capacity of 1.5 tests per 1,000 residents and containment capacity of at least 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents and the ability to temporarily house at least 15 percent of the county's current homeless population.

Newsom opened his comments Thursday talking about how the state has developed record reserves while paying down the large "wall of debt" that his predecessor Gov. Jerry Brown had often spoken about.

Newsom noted that the state had a $6 billion annual budget surplus in January but now, just 90 days later, is faced with a massive deficit.

"We're projecting tens of billions of dollars in shortfalls, all from COVID-19. This is a global pandemic. There is not an economy around the world that hasn't been substantively impacted," Newsom said. "When you see those numbers, they should get your attention and understandably so. But what may not get as much attention and, I think, deserves your attention equally, we are better positioned to deal with this shortfall than we have shortfalls of the past."

The governor said that, despite the challenges faced, California would be able to rebound, noting how the state overcame shortfalls with huge deficits in 2003 and 2009.

Newsom also spoke about the need for the federal government to provide the assistance and leadership for the state and the country as a whole to get through the crisis, with legislators moving beyond partisanship to accomplish more for the good of the American people.

"We'll need everybody moving together in this. Again, this is not a red state issue, a blue state issue, it's tiring saying that. It's not a red county issue, a blue county issue, that's tiring," Newsom said. "It's about humans beings that need government at a time of great need and great stress, more than they ever have in our lifetimes, and we are capable of meeting that moment together."

The governor reminded the state that the beginning of Phase 2 was not a return to normal and the future will include fits and starts as officials deal with this singular crisis.

"We're re-imagining the future in real time because we have to invent it in real time to just address the magnitude of this crisis," Newsom said. "Just ask our teachers that are doing distance learning and able to do it almost in heroic ways overnight. Just ask so many of our employers and entrepreneurs that have even broke through with additional innovations in terms of the telework that they're doing and the other capacity to organize differently their teams of employees, essential and non-essential."

Californians will have to wait a little longer for a haircut, manicure or pedicure. The initial Phase 2 openings do not include close-contact businesses, such as dine-in restaurants and salons.

The next phase, which could see salons, gyms, movie theaters and churches reopen, may be months away. Phase 4 would end all restrictions and allow for large gatherings at concerts and sporting events.

Newsom also noted that there would be some local-government variances, causing different openings from county to county, city to city. Public health directors from six Bay Area counties and the City of Berkeley issued a joint public statement Thursday saying the current health orders, updated on May 4, remain in effect. The current health order would still prohibit curbside pickup from non-essential, non-outdoor businesses and it would still not be allowed on Friday.

"We appreciate that the Governor recognizes that California communities are impacted differently by coronavirus and can make decisions at the local level," the joint statement said. "In our current environment, if a county order differs from a state order, the more restrictive order takes precedence."

In San Francisco, for example, Mayor London Breed has hinted implementing Phase 2 reopenings may be a slow process.

"The numbers are still going up, the number of deaths are still going up, and we have not lowered the curve," Breed said at her Wednesday briefing, indicating San Francisco has not seen a significant enough downturn in COVID-19 benchmarks for the health order to relax very much.

At a meeting of the Santa Clara board of aupervisors, public health officer Sara Cody told officials the county needs to significantly ramp up testing and contact tracing before rolling back the stay-at-home order.

"We are evaluating of course in our own community what we can and can't do to ensure that we protect our own residents and we're also, of course, looking to learn more about the proposal and the changes in the state order," Cody said.

Santa Clara has the hardest hit region in the 10-county Bay Area. Since the outbreak began, Santa Clara has had 2,268 confirmed cases with 126 deaths, five of those reported on Wednesday.

In Solano County, meanwhile, health officials have been given the green light to permit local restaurants to reopen with restrictions next week.

Three Northern California counties with few confirmed COVID-19 cases have already allowed a variety of businesses to reopen.

Tiny Modoc County permitted its only movie theater to open its doors. Yuba and Sutter counties allowed in-store shopping and the restarting of gyms and fitness studios, salons, spas and tattoo parlors, libraries and playgrounds.

But state officials have taken actions to reel renegade counties back in line.

This week, state regulators contacted a handful of businesses in Yuba and Sutter counties, warning them to comply with the statewide order, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee reported.

Agents of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control asked the locations to voluntarily close in-house dining "until it is safe to reopen, in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19," ABC spokesman John Carr told the Bee.

On Wednesday, Yuba-Sutter Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu issued a public warning to businesses to make sure their employees and customers were practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings, as required by the local orders.

"It has become clear a number of businesses are not enacting required protocols to ensure the safety of the community," Luu wrote.

"I understand that some of your customers may strongly object to a facial covering requirement but the long-term safety of our community is at stake," Luu added. "We do not want to take any steps back in our phasing-in efforts."

In Los Angeles, county officials have already outlined a plan allowing some reopenings beginning Friday, provided safety precautions are in place.

Golfers can hit the links again and trails will be open with county employees on hand to remind hikers of social distancing rules, board of supervisors chair Kathryn Barger said.

Some Los Angeles County retailers can reopen with curbside pickup only — including florists and stores that sell toys, books, clothing, sporting goods and music. The county, the state's largest with 10 million residents, has accounted for more than half California's more than 2,500 virus deaths.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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