California Lays Out Plan for Phased-Reopening of Businesses
Governor Gavin Newsom outlined a four-stage plan to reopen parts of California’s economy. Initially, certain retail businesses, manufacturing facilities, schools and open spaces are slated to reopen, though stringent social distancing rules will still apply. Eventually, some entertainment venues and religious institutions could resume operations. Under the plan, the last to reopen would be live sports, concerts and other events where larger crowds gather.
The “Roadmap to Reopening” phases announced on Tuesday are built around the notion that slowly opening up various parts of the state will help prevent new outbreaks of COVID-19, which has throttled back the economy as stay-at-home orders remain in effect. The timeline for moving forward with reopening hinges on indicators such as testing, tracking and tracing benchmarks, surge capacity at hospitals, therapeutics and other factors.
Gov. Newsom said, “We believe we are weeks not months away from making meaningful modifications,” to the stay-at-home order. He indicated it is time to turn an eye to reopening the state’s businesses, schools and other parts of the shuttered economy.
The initial safety and preparedness stage is underway, and focuses on making workplaces as safe as possible for essential workers. It encompasses such efforts as building out testing and contact-tracing capabilities and managing hospital surge capacity; adapting physical settings and hospital workflow; building a safety net for the essential workforce; getting PPE into the hands of those that need it most; incorporating changes to individuals behavior and preparing safety guidelines for an expanded front-line workforce.
In the second stage, lower-risk workplaces will reopen, including modified school programs and childcare facilities. Additional places to open in this phase include retail, manufacturing facilities, logistics operations, offices if remote work is not possible, and other public spaces.
In stage three, higher-risk workplaces can reopen with adaptations and limits on the size of gatherings. These include personal care businesses such as hair and nail salons, spas, and gyms, entertainment venues such as movie theaters, sports without live audiences, and in-person religious gatherings such as church services and weddings.
Stage four will end the stay-at-home order, and the highest-risk workplaces and spaces can reopen. By this point, it is expected therapeutics will have been developed and other key goals met. This would allow venues to reopen for concerts, sporting events with live audiences and convention centers.
Governor Newsom also launched the Economic Recovery & Reinvention Listening Tour on Tuesday, by hosting a digital conversation with workers, small businesses and employers focused on the crisis’ impact on the retail sector and how they are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. The virtual conversation explored how they are adapting their businesses in the weeks and months ahead, and what opportunities they see to reinvent their business, industries, consumer habits, and the state’s economy. Gov. Newsom plans to host these conversations over the next few weeks, with members of the state Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery focusing on different sectors.
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