News, Culture & Society

California COVID-19 Lockdown: Reopening is coming

Last week Gavin Newsom announced certain relaxations on the lockdown rules and regulations on all 40 million citizens of California.

As the global pandemic continued to spread in California, making it one of the primary hotspots of the country, Gavin Newsom placed a Shelter in Place order back on March 19.

However, an enormous number of Californians, just like citizens of other states, have become unemployed since then, and there has been a forecast of a 61.1% decrease in tax collections between April and June.

Hence, last week, Newsom announced certain relaxations on the lockdown rules and regulations on all 40 million citizens of California.

Entering Stage Two 

California has a 4-stage plan to reopen:

  1. Stage 1: the general public stays indoors except for front line workers.
  2. Stage 2: reopening low-risk workplaces. These include schools, offices, stores offering curbside pickup, furniture shops, florists, and other non-essential businesses.
  3. Stage 3: reopening businesses that are at high risk because they can’t operate under the rules of social distancing. These include salons, spas, movie theatres, gyms, bars, nightclubs, etc.
  4. Stage 4: lifting stay at home orders and allowing concerts, sporting events, and such, to take place as usual.

Allowing these businesses to resume activity means California is slowly easing into stage 2.  “We are entering into the next phase this week,” Newsom said. “End of the week, with modifications, we will allow retail to start operating across the spectrum.”

He also said that he would release guidelines for dine-in restaurants on May 12. In the coming weeks, shopping malls, restaurants, small offices, and such may resume operation if the reports of flattening the curve remain positive.

What Businesses are Allowed to Operate At the Moment?

For now, businesses that can resume activities, given that they follow certain guidelines like curbside pickup, include:

  • Grocery and convenience stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Gas stations
  • Moving companies
  • Banks
  • Restaurants offering take-out and delivery
  • Laundry services
  • Businesses providing safety and sanitation services
  • Companies providing mailing and shipping services
  • Book stores
  • Music stores
  • Florists
  • Toy stores
  • Furniture shops
  • Jewelry stores
  • Sporting good shops
  • Childcare

All businesses are instructed to follow guidelines to ensure that they keep their customers and employees safe. Workers must physically distance themselves at all times, and take breaks in open areas as much as possible.

More importantly, the use of hand sanitizers, gloves, and masks is mandatory for all workers. Businesses are also ordered to develop a hands-free form of payment for their employees to minimize contact of any sort.

What Am I Allowed to Do? 

You can perform the essential activities and recreational activities listed below:

Essential Activities 

  • Work as a member of the frontline staff.
  • Buy medication, medical supplies, and office supplies.
  • Buy food, household items, and pet supplies.
  • Care for a pet or family member.

Citizens are ordered to stay six feet apart from each other at all times while doing these tasks.

Permitted Recreational Activities 

Here’s a list of some of the main activities that you can enjoy outside:

  • Jogging and running
  • BMX biking
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Picnics (household members only)
  • Certain sports like tennis and badminton (singles)
  • Canoeing (singles)
  • Surfing

For a complete list, click here.

These activities will only be allowed as long as citizens remain six feet apart from each other and only stay close to members of the household. Moreover, everyone is advised to follow safety precautions like washing hands before and after the activity, coughing into the elbow, etc.

It’s also advised not to go out if you’re having flu-like symptoms.

Note: Anyone not complying by these rules will be fined or imprisoned, as ordered by the state.

Stage 3 – Months or A Year Away? 

“Phase 3 is not a year away. It’s not six months away. It’s not even three months away. It may not even be more than a month away,” Newsom said during the conference on May 8.

Hence, there aren’t specific dates as to what is supposed to happen when. Officials will closely monitor statistics to determine when it’s safe to move on to the next stage.

As for right now, stage 2 has slowly begun, and whether or not a county can fully jump into this phase depends on its statistics.

Public health officials have to make sure that they meet certain criteria to ease into stage 2 completely. For instance, they’ll have to prove that there have been no deaths due to the virus in the past 14 days, etc.

Immediate Effects of Moving Into Stage 2

As restrictions eased, California beaches received thousands of visitors this weekend, and most of them weren’t socially distanced.

On the other hand, around a thousand protestors were seen on Huntington Beach, demanding the state to reopen fully. Meanwhile, not many of them were wearing masks or staying apart.

As Newsom said on May 4, the stay at home orders might become strict again if needed. Hence, we may move back to stage 1 if the number of infected people starts to spike up again.