SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom issued the broadest loosening of his stay-at-home order so far, allowing some retailers to reopen but not have customers in stores.
The announcement Thursday was the result of improvement in battling the coronavirus, and it moves California into the second phase of a methodical four-step process to full reopening.
"The guidelines we're focused on today are extending opportunities in the retail sector, the manufacturing sector, and the logistics sector," Newsom said during his daily press briefing. "All with adaptations, all with modifications but all with an eye on turning the page and moving into a new phase in terms of our economic recovery."
It covers only a sliver of retail businesses as well as manufacturers' warehouses considered low risk for the virus. Stores that will be allowed to open with curbside service if they meet other safety requirements include bookstores, clothing stores, florists, and sporting goods stores.
A checklist of guidelines for retail employers has been posted on the state's COVID-19 website, outlining such practices as employee temperature checks, touch-less systems, special hours for the elderly, new training for employees, face coverings, and more.
Higher-risk businesses like hair and nail salons, gyms, offices, and dining in restaurants will come later. Notably, Newsom said the first instance of community spread in California happened in a nail salon.
Reopening... with modifications
It's been a quiet time for Sacramento businesses that, after closing because of Newsom's orders in March, have dealt with a sudden and grinding halt of customers and a complete standstill of funds.
Now, as California prepares to reopen, those same business owners are making their own plans.
Henning Mortensen, the owner of Bond Driving School, says despite repeated attempts, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles has yet to give him guidance on how to conduct business.
But he is still prepping to reopen.
"I've even put separators inside the vehicle," Henning said of the lengths he has gone to maintain proper precautions to prevent COVID-19 spread.
Henning is not alone. ABC10 spoke with several business owners, and all of them came to the same conclusion: Business is not going to look like it did before.
That's why many are getting creative.
Ryan Hammonds, who provides custom tailored suits, said his shop is adjusting, too.
"Our fitting process is very specific and involves specific garments we place on [customers]," Hammonds explained. "So we can actually achieve perfect fit by not being in close proximity by using those garments."
Plus, Hammonds said they're adding masks to their repertoire.
Beers Books is bringing some employees back to provide curbside pick-up, owner Andrew Naify said.
"I have a lot of friends and colleagues who work in the restaurant industry who’ve been doing curbside for a few weeks and have some tips for us," Naify said.
One of those is restaurateur Aziz Bellarbi-Salah who said he is thrilled to reopen Cafe A Cote for takeout, the second out of his four businesses to reopen. Bellarbi-Salah has already had his Aioli restaurant on L Street open.
"We're opening here for take-out after being closed for, gosh, 7 or 8 weeks now," Bellarbi-Salah said.
But with reopening comes, adapting to new guidelines.
"I'm not currently taking cash," Bellarabi-Salah said.
Jumping deeper into Phase 2
As Newsom announced Thursday guidelines for some California businesses to begin reopening, a few counties had already begun doing so days before.
Yuba and Sutter counties loosened their public health guidelines last week, opening the doors for several stores owners to start up business again. That included the Yuba Sutter Mall, which had a soft reopening on Wednesday to the delight of several customers looking to shop.
Days ago, Newsom said the counties made a "big mistake" reopening so soon. But on Thursday, he outlined how some counties might be able to move ahead with doing so faster.
"These counties that want to move into a deeper part of the second phase have to do so in concurrence with their hospital system, in concurrence with their boards of supervisors in the counties and with all of these tough questions answered on testing, tracing and surge and protecting vulnerable communities," Newsom said.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly laid out some changes in the three sectors reopening Friday, including businesses shifting to a mostly curbside pick up and delivery model "all done in that physically distance way."
"That normal manufacturing plant may have people further apart," Dr. Ghaly said. "It may mean that their break rooms have been closed down and exchanged for open air break rooms. Warehouses might look a lot more like those manufacturing businesses as well, and maybe their delivery trucks are full with sanitation materials."
Dr. Ghaly said the state will eventually move further into Phase 2, which means opening offices, restaurants, and shopping malls. Just not right now.
Much like the early iteration of Phase 2, the state will work to create guidelines based on data that show certain areas are ready to reopen without chancing "an increased spread of COVID-19," Dr. Ghaly said.
Guidance for safely returning to work includes performing detailed risk assessments, training and screening employees, and implementing things like an on-site protection plan and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
As for how counties will be able to move ahead faster, Newsom said they'll have to meet certain benchmarks like having no coronavirus deaths for 14 days straight, protecting essential workers, meeting minimum testing capacity, and having sufficient contact tracers.
"Capacity to meet these indicators on testing, on tracing, on tracking, on supportive isolation, on issues related to hospital surge, is how we manage the needs of our most vulnerable Californians," Newsom said.
Read more about coronavirus from ABC10
- CHP blocks capitol in anticipation of new demonstration against California stay-at-home order
- Some salon owners facing possible fines for re-opening during coronavirus pandemic
- Sacramento Kings to open practice facilities to players for voluntary, individual workouts
- Nordstrom in Arden Fair mall to close permanently due to coronavirus pandemic
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