Newsom announces digital roundtables for reopening economy

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Courtesy of the Office of the Governor

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he will be hosting a series of digital roundtables with leaders in the business community to discuss plans for reopening California, during his daily briefing on Monday.

“A few weeks back, we announced a new economic-recovery advisory body … with some of the best and the brightest minds we can source in the state of California that are advising us on our recovery efforts,” Newsom said. “One of the conversations that came out of this task force was the importance of breaking down by sector … and really drilling down on the specific and unique needs of every sector of our economy in an effort to further that cause and to do so with some transparency.”

That being said, the roundtables are expected to also be broken down by sector to allow discussion of the unique factors specific to each, and are set to include both businesses and customers, as well as experts from the advisory committee to help guide the conversations.

“It’s not just about the immediacy of working to get specific language on guidance for meaningful modifications of our stay-at-home order in the short term, but it’s really talking about the future, and what that retail experience may look like, a year from now, two, three years from now,” Newsom added. “So, having this dynamic process, these two-way conversations, on a more granular level, we think is not only appropriate, but will be absolutely determinative in terms of how and when those guidelines are put out over the course of the next few weeks.”

In addition, Newsom addressed unemployment insurance claims, of which California has distributed approximately $4.4 billion and 4.3 million checks since March 15.

“It’s (an) unprecedented amount of money that has been distributed … and we continue to see claims increase,” he said.

In response, the call center’s hours have been extended and 1,340 people have been redeployed to help support the unemployment insurance claim process, including supporting the call center, which will receive 600 of those people, Newsom said.

To provide further assistance, Newsom announced that a texting line is expected to open later this week to answer questions via chatbots.

“Just last week, 15 million calls came into the call center and over 1 million minutes were spent with a human being answering questions, so one of the things we recognize we need to do is reduce that call volume,” Newsom said. “We think texting will help in those efforts.”

After a warm weekend saw many Californians hit the beaches that have remained open, Newsom said that is exactly “what not to do.”

“This virus doesn’t take the weekends off, this virus doesn’t go home, because it’s a beautiful, sunny day around our coasts,” he said. “The reality is we are just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order … However, that isn’t driven by data, it’s driven by behavior, and as we change our behavior, we can impact the science, the health and the data.”

That being said, Newsom believes the only thing that will set the state back is community behavior and people failing to practice physical distancing as well as other health guidelines.

“That’s the only thing that’s going to slow down our ability to reopen this economy (and) our ability to adapt and modify the stay-at-home order,” he added.

The first in the series of roundtables is scheduled for Tuesday. For more information, visit To view all coronavirus-related stories, visit

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