For months, only essential businesses have been allowed to operate, however, Governor Newsom says in weeks we could see modifications to the stay at home order for businesses, schools and childcare facilities.
Newsom and Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of the California Department of Public Health, revealed four stages for reopening and said they would release a framework for local governments to use.
The four stages:
- Safety and preparedness: Making essential workforce environments as safe as possible. Including looking acquiring Personal Protective Equipment, etc.
- Lower risk workplaces: Creating opportunities for lower risk sectors — retail, manufacturing, offices and public spaces — to adapt and re-open. Modify school programs and childcare re-open.
- Higher risk workplaces: Creating opportunities for higher risk sectors — personal care services, gyms, entertainment venues and religious services — to adapt and re-open. These are businesses and services that often require close proximity.
- End of the stay at home order: Return to the expanded workforce in highest risk workplaces, including large venues and public gatherings. This requires therapeutics.
The theme is cautious optimism. The state says they can begin having these conversations and considering making these modifications because the COVID-19 data is stable — not decreases, but stabilization.
We are currently in Stage 1 and looking to transition into Stage 2 in a matter of weeks. In Stage 1, the state is continuing to build out testing, contact tracing, PPE and hospital surge capacity. As they start moving towards Stage 2, the state is preparing sector-by-sector safety guidelines.
Early School Year Possible
When it comes to schools, Newsom admitted that closing schools and introducing distance learning have caused a learning gap.
Newsom said that, as part of Stage 2, they are considering the idea of starting the school year early — in July or August. Dr. Angell says that school will look different, but with physical and environmental changes they can reopen schools as well as childcare facilities. Importantly, they need to be able to protect children and the staff.
The vision is to create opportunities where childcare facilities can provide more services so parents can go back to work.
However, there is still a responsibility on individuals. Dr. Angell said wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands, and avoiding non-essential travel all remain vital.
Opening Businesses in Phases
Possible state-wide modifications to the stay at home order mean low risk businesses can start planning on opening their doors in a few weeks. Newsom says they need to ensure that businesses, as an entity, as well as their workforce and customers are protected by adapting to new physical and environmental changes — like curbside pick-up and telecommuting when possible.
At the state level, they want to make sure that policies are in place to help workers who get sick. Additionally, businesses would need to provide wage replacement.
The question of “when?” still depends on the progress of the state’s six indicators. The six indicators for modifying the stay-at-home order are:
- The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;
- The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;
- The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges;
- The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand;
- The ability for businesses, schools, and childcare facilities to support physical distancing; and
- The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.
Newsom and Dr. Angell said there will be room for regional variances, but that they respect if certain counties want to air on the stricter side.
For more information, visit covid19.ca.gov.