One of the first states to shut down amidst the coronavirus pandemic will now be one of the first states reopening for business. On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California will begin allowing select businesses to reopen as early as Friday, May 8, while still encouraging people to practice social distancing.
Much like Georgia and Texas, which have recently reopened, California’s step-by-step plan to revitalize the local economy has the opportunity to set the tone for how the rest of the country will handle phasing out of lockdowns. However, as experts continue to warn states that are prematurely opening back up, the question remains which businesses in California will actually return to semi-normal operations first?
The state will be entering what Governor Newsom calls “Phase 2,” which includes opening places like book, clothing, toy, and sporting goods stores. Music shops and florists will also open their doors during this first step. What won't be up and running during Phase 2 is all shopping malls, offices, or sit-down services like restaurants and bars. Despite returning to regular operating hours, businesses that reopen will still have to abide by restrictions, including only delivering orders curbside as well as strict social distancing of six feet apart or more. Many will likely only allow a fraction of their actual capacity to wait or enter doors, much like what grocery and food services have already implemented.
Although a detailed guidelines about the Phase 2 won't be released until Thursday, Newsom says that the state’s approach is much different than reopenings in states like Georgia, where people have begun flocking back to malls and parks in droves, leaving behind social distancing precautions quickly.
From the get go, Newsom enforced strict lockdown measures across the state, which started when there had only been 19 deaths. Thanks in part to his efforts, parts of California — like the Bay Area — have come close to eliminating the virus' presence entirely. The governor has also stressed that any and all policy decisions made about the pandemic will be guided by data and science, not personal desire of residents to reopen.
Despite all of these reopenings, experts have continued to stress that reopening so quickly is a mistake. “It's going to cost lives," Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and disaster preparedness specialist at Columbia University Medical Center, told CNN last week.
Still, Governor Newsom has been quite careful and seems to be prioritizing California residents’ as best as he can while trying to reopen. California will now join Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina on the list of states that have begun to reopen.