Fewer Restaurant Tables And Temperature Checks At Businesses: California Lays Out Plan To Slowly Reopen
After acknowledging that stay-at-home orders aren’t sustainable long term, California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a plan Tuesday to loosen social distancing measures in the state, suggesting radical changes to daily life in the most detailed framework to reopen an area of the U.S. to date.
Newsom did not offer a timeline for when the stay-at-home orders will be modified, but said he will think about setting a date in two weeks if hospitalizations and ICU admissions begin to decline and if the state ramps up its testing and virus tracking ability.
While acknowledging that physical distancing is working in the state, Newsom cautioned that California “is not out of the woods yet” and residents need to continue staying at home until such measures are officially loosened.
Newsom said reopening the state won’t be like a “light switch” and instead compared the process to a dimmer, which needs to be toggled “so we get exactly the appropriate lighting, so that we can ultimately transition to herd immunity and that vaccine.”
Before reopening, areas in the state will need to think about their ability to test everyone who is symptomatic, protect vulnerable populations, prepare the health system for another surge, support the development of therapeutic treatments, determine how they can physically redraw floor plans to ensure people can stay at least six feet away from each other and have the ability to tighten the rules again in the case of another surge.
When localities do begin to ease social distancing restrictions, Newsom hinted at what daily life may look like: restaurants may operate with fewer tables, waiters may wear gloves and offer disposable menus, businesses may check the temperature of anyone entering the building and schools may stagger times students come in when the school year starts in the fall.
Newsom said that even if the state does ease physical distancing rules, mass gatherings will likely continue to be prohibited until a vaccine is developed.
“I know you want the timeline, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early as much as we all want to. I don’t want to make a political decision that puts people’s lives at risk, and the economy at more risk,” Newsom said.
California has not seen a surge in infections similar to other hotspots in the U.S., such as New York and Louisiana. Though more research is needed to determine why California appears to have flattened the curve, public health experts credit the state’s early stay-at-home orders, which came days and sometimes weeks before other states. While California is introducing its own specific plan for the state, it will use the same framework as Oregon and Washington in a regional effort.
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