California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveils guide to lifting coronavirus restrictions

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that 150 hotels have agreed to give deep discounts to health care workers logging long hours in hospitals while dealing with coronavirus outbreak, during his daily news briefing at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif. Thursday, April 9, 2020.

Rich Pedroncelli | Pool | AP

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday a guide to how California will reopen society and the economy across the state as officials weigh lifting restrictive orders meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 19, making it one of the first states to issue mandatory social distancing policies in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Newsom said that order and similar policies have successfully minimized California’s Covid-19 outbreak, which has infected more than 22,348 people across the state and killed at least 687 people in California as of Sunday, according to California Health and Human Services.

“While Californians have stepped up in a big way to flatten the curve and buy us time to prepare to fight the virus, at some point in the future we will need to modify our stay-at-home order,” Newsom said in a statement. “As we contemplate reopening parts of our state, we must be guided by science and data, and we must understand that things will look different than before.”

Local officials will have a “profound and outsize influence” on any any decision to lift public health orders, Newsom said. He went on to outline six key indicators that will guide the state’s decision as it considers lifting the stay-at-home order:

  • The capacity to test broadly, conduct contact tracing, isolate patients and support those who are exposed,
  • The ability to prevent infection among those most at risk of developing severe Covid-19,
  • The state health system’s capacity to handle potential outbreaks,
  • The availability of effective treatments,
  • Businesses, schools and child care facilities’ preparedness to support social distancing, and
  • The state’s ability to reinstate certain orders, if necessary.

Even once the stay-at-home order is lifted, Newsom said society won’t snap back to normal. For example, he said restaurants will likely have to limit capacity and face coverings in public will likely be common.

“There’s no light switch here. It’s more like a dimmer,” he said at a news briefing. “Normal, it will not be until we have herd immunity and a vaccine. You may be having dinner with the waiter wearing gloves and maybe a face mask…where your temperature is checked before walking in. These are likely scenarios.”

Newsom declined to offer a timeline on when the order might be lifted, but he told reporters that if the six requirements are met by the first week of May, “ask me the question then.” However, he cautioned that lifting the order too early could have dire consequences if the virus begins to spread rapidly.

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