Newsom announces some retail stores can reopen this week

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

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday California is entering the second phase of his four-stage plan, and some retail stores can begin to reopen Friday.

This comes after the governor released a report card showing that California saw a 13.9% decline, which Newsom called a “significant decline,” in both hospitalization of coronavirus patients, as well as COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit. 

“That’s why I feel some confidence that, over the course of the next week, we’re going to be able to make some announcements that will give people some more confidence and ability for California to get back on its economic feet,” Newsom added during his daily news briefing.

With that in mind, some lower-risk retail stores across the state are expected to be allowed to reopen, with modifications and in accordance with guidelines released last week, as early as Friday. 

These include clothing, book stores, music, toys, sporting goods stores and florists who are expected to be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup. 

In addition, some manufacturing businesses that support these retailers will also be allowed to reopen, as well as logistics businesses, Newsom said.

Even so, dine-in restaurants, shopping malls and offices will remain closed for now, as they will be part of the later stage No. 2 reopenings, Newsom added. 

“We’ve got teams of people working, not just internally but externally, to look at each type of business within each type of industry and looking at sectoral and individual augmentation and guidelines that will be necessary and a requirement of any meaningful reopening,” Newsom said. 

These decisions are expected to be allowed to be made at the local level, as well, as specific communities will be allowed to reopen at their own pace, per Newsom’s four-stage planning guidelines.

Hence, counties can choose to keep more restrictive measures in place based on local conditions, and the governor expects some counties to do so, keeping stay-at-home orders in place beyond Friday. 

Counties that would like to move more quickly through stage No. 2 must submit a readiness plan to the state and must meet certain criteria, which includes demonstrating a low prevalence of COVID-19, meet testing and contact tracing criteria, showing their health care system is prepared in the event of a sudden rise in cases, and demonstrate that they have plans in place to protect vulnerable populations.

California’s Pandemic Roadmap. Courtesy Office of the Governor

Los Angeles County is expected to share details into its roadmap toward reopening later this week, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of the county’s Public Health Department. 

“We set out a set of prerequisites that we need to meet in order to safely start our reopening, so we’re going to look this week. We’re going to share our recovery plans with you and again, wherever it’s possible to safely reopen we’ll be doing so as quickly as possible,” said Ferrer during a live county broadcast Monday. 

As the state looks to lift lockdown orders to some businesses by the end of the week, the state Legislature has returned to Sacramento, including elected officials representing the Santa Clarita Valley, where they’re expected to pass a state budget and continue the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Locally, Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth said he is in 100% agreement with the governor’s announcement.

“The data, specifically in Santa Clarita, certainly has demonstrated that our community’s efforts have paid off,” Smyth said. “We have seen within the city a stabilization, for the most part, of the daily cases and a significant decline in hospitalizations.”

However, Smyth said the question remains on whether the governor’s order allowing businesses to start opening up on Friday is in conflict with the county’s stay-at-home order, which doesn’t expire until May 15.

“I would hope and encourage the (county’s) Board of Supervisors to amend their order and allow businesses to start the process of reopening,” Smyth added. “(The county) is going to have to either extend, amend or let it expire, but I do expect some announcement by the county prior to the May 15 expiration date.” 

Similarly, the SCV Chamber of Commerce believes the governor’s announcement is great news for the SCV’s retailers and manufacturers who support those retailers, according to spokesman John Musella.

“We are pleased to see that California is moving in the right direction, (and) that we can now talk about reopening business and getting our economy going again,” Musella said. “Businesses and workers have been suffering for the last more than six weeks as a result of this pandemic, and we’re happy to see that businesses are going to be able to reopen their doors, to some degree, starting this Friday.”

That being said, the chamber is continuing to encourage people to wear masks.

“Wearing a mask is a sign of respect for our front-line workers,” Musella added. “We should all be wearing masks going forward to make sure that we are showing them the respect that they deserve as we start to reopen business and re-engage each other in our communities.” 

More details on the governor’s updated stay-at-home guidelines are expected to be provided on Thursday. 

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Signal Staff Writer Tammy Murga contributed to this report.

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