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7 Northern California counties get OK to reopen quickly as Gov. Newsom details easing of restrictions

In a late update to Gov. Newsom's Tuesday press briefing, state public health officials announced that five more counties have the green light to begin reopening.

UPDATE:

In a late update to Governor Gavin Newsom's Tuesday press briefing, state public health officials announced that five more counties have the green light to begin reopen quickly.

Amador, Lassen, Nevada, Placer and Shasta counties all received the OK from the state to move through Stage 2 of the state's reopening plan. Newsom announced earlier that Butte and El Dorado counties were the first two to receive approval.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Butte and El Dorado counties are the first two California counties to receive state approval to more quickly reopen some services as officials gradually relax restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

The California Department of Public Health posted documents from Butte and El Dorado counties on its website with a note that those counties can move more quickly through Stage 2 opening sectors once state guidance is posted for that sector.

Health officials in each county attested that they have had little local impact from the pandemic and can handle any new cases.

In his Tuesday press briefing, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new areas statewide that can begin reopening with less restriction, like offices where workers cannot telework, outdoor museums, and malls/strip malls for curbside pickup.

Newsom stressed that the relaxing of distancing guidelines is fluid and counties will need to be able to quickly modify those guidelines should there be a resurgence of the virus.

While the counties reopening is a move in the right direction, Nick Dedier, the owner of Milestone restaurant in El Dorado County, said allowing people to dine in with the new health restrictions won't mean more money for his business.

With people still not being able to dine-in at his restaurant at a full capacity, Dedier said he doesn't expect to go back to normal.

"It's going to be about the same," Dedier said of his revenue. "Right now, our restaurant capacity seats 136 people inside. With our current table layout plan for reopening, we will be able to seat 42, which is fairly devastating for someone operating on a 5% margin."

Dedier said he plans on taking a week off with his team to come up with the best way to make the new normal work in the restaurant.

"Now, with the new guidelines, we will marry those with our county guidelines, and we will alter our business accordingly," Dedier said. "And we will do it in our own time and make sure we do it right."

Although Butte and El Dorado counties were the only two mentioned specifically by the governor, local county health jurisdictions that meet state guidelines “and follow the process in the county guidance” could also move more quickly through stage 2, according to the covid19.ca.com website.

If those stage 2 criteria are met, the following businesses, sectors, and services may reopen with modifications: dine-in restaurants; limited services; outdoor museums; shopping centers & all in-store retail; all office-based workplaces; all manufacturing industries supporting retail; all logistics industries supporting retail; and stage 1 sectors.

A running list of counties that have met the requirements can be found here.

When it's allowed to resume, Newsom said guidelines for reopening restaurants will be based on spacing and not a blanket percentage of capacity as well as other recommendations from the California Restaurant Association.

The restaurant association helped develop the recommendations with public health leaders as safeguards for employees and customers. Recommendations on the list include servers getting temperature checked, filing out a health survey, and putting on a face covering or mask at the start of every shift for the foreseeable future.

Tables would be separated by at least six feet and sneeze guards will be put up for the booths that can’t be moved. Condiments and bread baskets would be taken away and salad bars would be shut down.

“It's kind of tough because we are in the hospitality industry and when you're out dining at a restaurant and there's this kind of forced sterile environment, it detracts from the whole experience," said Tim Benham, the general manager of Pizza Rock in Sacramento.

Benham, who ABC10 spoke with last week, says the recommendations would force him to cut seating.

"We're looking at cutting down our seating to just 50 seats total. It brings our bar to a total of four," he said.

The California Restaurant Association says it’s possible 20 to 30 percent of all restaurants across the state will not make it after the pandemic is over.

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