Governor Newsom Says California Will Begin Reopening This Week


Brandon Chen, Staff Writer

In a press conference, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that some retail businesses will be allowed to reopen as early as Friday. This is part of his four-phase plan,  announced last week, to transition California into a state of normalcy once again.

Amidst protests and growing pressure to ease stay-at-home orders in California, the governor remained adamant in his decision-making. 

“Politics will not drive our decision-making. Protests won’t drive our decision-making. Political pressure will not drive our decision-making,” he said. “The data says it can happen.”

Under this second phase of statewide COVID-19 guidelines, florists, bookstores, clothing stores, music stores, toy stores, and sporting goods stores will be allowed to open for pickup, and manufacturing and logistics can resume the supply chain. However, malls, offices, and sit-down restaurants are to remain closed. 

This phase also gives local governments more agency, allowing certain communities to further reopen. These areas must submit “containment plans” that demonstrate adequate testing, tracing, physical distancing, sanitation, and hospital beds for their communities. Similarly, local orders that are more restrictive than statewide reopening take precedence over any of Newsom’s changes. 

While Newsom has been lauded for his handling of the virus, being the first governor to implement statewide stay-at-home orders, many citizens are upset as unemployment reached record levels. With growing frustration over beach closure orders and a weakening economy, protests have broken out, with three rural counties in Northern California even reopening parts of their economies without Newsom’s approval. 

As California’s numbers begin to stabilize with an increased testing capacity, supply of personal protective equipment, and necessities like hospital beds and ventilators, the state feels prepared to move forward with Stage Two. State Public Health Officer Sonia Angell said, “As we begin to move forward to move out of our homes, we increase the risk of people getting sick and when people get sick, we want to make sure we’re there to protect them.”

The governor has also announced a partnership with University of California campuses in San Francisco and Los Angeles to launch an online academy to recruit and train new tracers, planning on implementing 3,000 new tracers a week. 

Furthermore, the state has reached its goal of 25,000 coronavirus tests a day, isolating and tracking down new cases, which will be essential as the state continues to reopen.

The Newsom administration hopes to move to Stage Three in “months”, with the opening of hair salons, gyms, sports competitions (in empty stadiums), and religious services, followed by Stage Four marking the end of stay-at-home orders and easing of all restrictions. However, this stage is unlikely to be reached before a vaccine is developed. 

These modifications are not one-size-fits-all and are subject to change with new data. “There was a reason we put the stay-at-home order in the first place,” Newsom said. “This virus has not gone away. Let’s not develop amnesia. Let’s not forget why we’re in this position in the first place. Let’s not be naive about the virulence of this disease.” 

With a risk of a second wave, the administration remains optimistic, but cautious, in California’s return to normalcy.


Photo courtesy of LATIMES.COM