California eases Covid-19 restrictions, allowing some businesses to reopen | US news

Some California retailers will be allowed to reopen their businesses starting on Friday, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said Monday.

More than six weeks after the California governor issued a nationwide stay-at-home order, shops selling books, clothing, sporting goods, flowers or anything else that a customer can purchase through curbside pickup will be able to open and operate again, if they implement certain modifications.

“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.”

“This is a very positive sign and it has only happened for one reason: the data says it can happen,” he added.

The easing in restrictions came after groups of protesters had gathered across the state in defiance of the lockdown last week. Demonstrations took place from the capital of Sacramento to San Francisco and San Diego. Large crowds turned out in Orange county’s Huntington Beach, a recent flashpoint after the governor had ordered beaches there to close over the weekend.

Newsom acknowledged that some California regions still will require stricter guidelines than the state guidelines in the weeks to come.

The six Bay Area counties that led the charge in becoming the first to issue a stay-at-home order in the nation, for example, have experienced a much higher rate of infection than more rural areas of the state. Los Angeles has seen more than 26,000 cases.

Last week, rural Yuba and Sutter counties, located north of Sacramento, issued a measure that defied the state’s order and reopened businesses starting Monday. Modoc county, located on the Nevada border, was the first to begin pushing for a reopening.

“Our rural lifestyle and the fact that many of our residents have been abiding by the guidelines has kept us at zero,” said Tex Dowdy, the Modoc county sheriff, in a statement. “We are the perfect choice to pilot a reopening in the state.”

As of Monday, California was reporting 53,616 positive cases and 2,215 deaths. Newsom has been adamant that any modification to the stay-at-home order be based on science and the state meeting certain criteria such as having a capacity to meet a surge in healthcare, having enough personal protective equipment and having testing and trace contacting capacity.

Newsom’s announcement comes on the heels after thousands of protesters gathered statewide in defiance of the lockdown order. Nearly 3,000 alone demonstrated at Huntington Beach in southern California after Newsom closed the beaches in Orange county following a weekend heatwave the packed the coastline.