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Much of California is relaxing COVID-19 restrictions starting May 8

On May 4, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom declared his intent to move into Stage Two of a four-stage framework for reopening the state of California and ending the stay-at-home order, beginning Friday, May 8. Stage Two includes the reopening of “lower-risk businesses and public spaces,” possibly with added modifications to the operating procedures of those businesses and places to facilitate social distancing.

The “Update on California’s Pandemic Roadmap” provided by Newsom’s official website states that lower-risk workplaces include “Expanded retail with curbside pickup and associated manufacturing and supply chains,” and names example businesses like clothing stores, bookstores, and florist shops, but specifies that shopping malls, offices, and restaurants with seated dining will not reopen during this time. Schools will also not be reopening at this time, though Newsom has previously suggested that the next school year could begin as early as July in order to compensate for the abbreviation of the 2019-2020 school year due to coronavirus. 

As part of the Pandemic Roadmap, Newsom’s office released a “State Report Card” evaluating California’s readiness to reopen based on its success with coronavirus suppression measures. The card reports that California is “on schedule” with six key metrics: stability of hospitalizations, personal protective equipment inventory, healthcare surge capacity, testing capacity, contact tracing capability and public health guidance in place. 

 Individual counties in California will be allowed to further relax their coronavirus restrictions on a case-by-case basis if they can prove that they meet the state’s “readiness criteria.” CNN reports that in order to meet this criteria, the country must have: one or fewer cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents and no coronavirus-related deaths for two weeks; the capacity to conduct at least 1.5 tests per 1,000 residents and 15 contract tracers per 1,000 residents on a daily basis; housing available for 15% or more of unhoused residents, as well as “sufficient” disinfectant supplies and protective gear; and a two-week supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) at skilled nursing facilities. 

Multiple counties in the Bay Area have elected to delay reopening past the May 8 date given by Newsom. Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and Marin have all stated that they will not be entering Stage Two on May 8. San Francisco mayor London Breed tweeted that she anticipates being able to allow some San Franciscan retailers to reopen with storefront pickup beginning Monday, May 18, if “SF continues progress reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

Neetu Balram, a spokesperson for the county of Alameda, told ABC7 News that Alameda was likely to enter Stage Two in mid-May at the earliest. The Public Health Officer for Marin County indicated that Marin will be following San Francisco’s lead and opening curbside pickup operations for retail outlets beginning May 18, although county officials for San Mateo and Contra Costa declined to indicate when their counties were likely to reopen, stating only that their counties would determine when they were prepared to relax restrictions. However, Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties will all be entering Stage Two starting May 8.