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State Moves to Phase Two of Newsom's Plan


Last updated 5/22/2020 at 11:26am

As the state continues to progress in the fight against the coronavirus, many are wondering how long it will be next until we reach another phase in Governor Gavin Newsom’s projected plan to reopen California.

Newsom laid out the four phases on April 28 to gradually reopening and easing the stay-at-home orders, but expressed his concerns of opening too fast that it could possibly lead to a second surge of cases, especially if people do not adhere to social and physical distancing.

With the number of cases and hospitalizations stabilizing, as well as health care capacity, Newsom said that the state is “weeks, not months” away from making more modifications.

On May 8, the state began to move into phase two of the governor’s plan, indicating a positive sign prompted by data on the virus outbreak and a silver lining for many.

This new plan comes after Newsom discussed the indicators of lifting the orders, which includes benchmarks for expanding the state’s testing capacity, addressing the needs of the hospital, working on developing therapeutics and deciding how physical distancing would look like when orders are lifted. This will help guide when the state can take each step into easing more restrictions.

Businesses such as book stores, clothing stores, toy stores and florists can reopen for curbside pick-up only. In order to do so, they are being asked to develop contactless payment procedures, have hand sanitizer available for employees and customers, ensure employees have proper protective gear, and ask employees to deliver goods to customers’ cars when possible.

At this time, office buildings, dine-in restaurants and shopping malls will not be allowed to reopen.

Newsom also announced that schools could start the next academic year in late July or early August to make up for the lost time, expressing his concern of the learning loss due to the coronavirus crisis.

However, specific details are still to be worked out, with mixed emotions of this suggestion.

In phase two, it stated some schools can open, however, with everything going on and distance learning, it seems that there will be no chance of that happening.

State Public Health Officer Sonia Angell explained that with an earlier school year, it will help students make up for the learning gaps, as well as allow parents to return to work full-time, given they are allowed to during Newsom’s guidelines of reopening the state.

Schools will also have to be prepared to make serious modifications, ensuring the safety of the staff and students, given another wave hits again.

Framing a reopening of the economy in four phases, with the first two phases being planning and reopening low-risk businesses and workplaces, respectively.

The four stages to gradually reopening the state, gradually lifting the stay-at-home orders are as follows:

Stage 1: Safety and Preparedness

Making essential workforce environments as safe as possible, as many continue to stay home to work on flattening the curve.

Building out the testing, PPE and hospital capacity (more protective equipment and a more robust testing and tracing system)

Preparing sector-by-sector guidelines for a safe reopening

Stage 2: Lower Risk Workplaces (began May 8)

Creating opportunities for lower-risk businesses and public spaces to reopen and adapt with modifications to allow for social distancing

Lifting restrictions on businesses like retail (e.g. curbside pickup), manufacturing, office (when telework not possible)

Modified school programs and childcare reopen

Stage 3: Higher Risk Workplaces

This phase is not “weeks away,” and will include modifications of having a limit on size of gatherings

Higher-risk businesses will be able to reopen, still with modifications

These businesses include hair and nail salons, gyms, movie theaters, resuming large public events like concerts and sporting events without fans

Stage 4: End of Stay-at-Home Order

Return to expanded workforce in highest risk workplaces, requiring therapeutics

Concerts, conventions and sports with a live crowd will be allowed to reopen

“I know we’re all ready for life to go back to normal. But it’s unbelievably important we reopen our economy in a scientific, thoughtful way – guided by public health. Our stores will look different. Offices will operate differently. But we will be healthier,” Newsom said.

The state is currently working on creating guidelines to allow restaurants and other establishments to open their doors once again, but at this time, Newsom added that this does not mean it will include in-house dining or reopening shopping malls.

More businesses in rural communities/counties will be allowed to reopen sooner, he said, however, they must be able to make that decision without risking “the health of the entire state.”

However, the state is working on developing guidelines that will allow office buildings, dine-in restaurants, shopping malls and outdoor museums to reopen next. Newsom released guidelines for dine-in restaurants on May 12, which took place after print.

More than 69,000 Californians have died from the virus, and 2,778 have been confirmed, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

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