Some retail stores could reopen as soon as Friday, governor says

California will allow some retail operations—including bookstores, clothing stores, sporting goods stores and florists—to reopen for curbside pickup as soon as Friday if certain conditions are met, the governor announced Monday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is beginning a new phase of limited reopening after reaching a series of benchmarks that include stabilization of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, distribution of personal protective equipment, healthcare surge capacity, expanded testing and tracing, and having public health guidance in place.

“This has to be done in a thoughtful and judicious way with a health-first focus,” Newsom said Monday.

Newsom’s plan does not mandate cities and counties allow stores to reopen. Any area that feels the need to implement more restrictive guidelines will be allowed to do so.

It’s unclear yet if Long Beach will follow the governor’s lead—although Mayor Robert Garcia has previously said the city will move forward in partnership with the state and county. It’s also uncertain whether the rest of Los Angeles County will immediately follow suit. The county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, said at a Monday press conference that she would provide more details later in the week.

“There is a lot at stake as we reopen,” she said.

Specific state guidelines, including how businesses will need to modify their operations to reopen safely, will be released on Thursday, Newsom said. Local health authorities and counties will be responsible for ensuring compliance, he said.

Logistics and manufacturing associated with retailers’ supply chains will also be allowed to reopen by Friday if the needed conditions are met.

“This is a very positive sign,” Newsom said. “It’s happening only for one reason: The data says it can happen.”

Industries not included in Newsom’s first wave or reopenings are offices, dine-in restaurant service and shopping malls. However, Newsom said counties with few cases of coronavirus—including many in rural Northern California—may be able to move quickly to the next phase of recovery, which could include things like dine-in restaurants, as long as they have plans vetted by local health officials and county supervisors.

Detailed safety plans are critical not only for public health but to reassure customers, the governor said.

“Just because you’re open doesn’t mean customers will show up,” he said.

Long Beach’s current stay-at-home order extends through May 15. The city, as well as LA County, has been hit harder than other parts of the state in terms of cases and deaths related to the coronavirus.

As of May 1, California averaged 132 infections per 100,000 residents. Long Beach had 152, while LA County and LA City were at 241 and 290 respectively.

Shortly after Newsom’s announcement, Ferrer gave a reminder at the county’s press briefing that the coronavirus is still killing more locals than any other disease.

“Recovery is a journey, and one that will take many months,” she said, and it will come with continued day-to-day restrictions like social distancing and meticulous disinfecting.

Long Beach officials are expected to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. today where there will be, “a lot to discuss and announce,” Garcia said.

Contact tracing

Newsom on Monday also announced a new partnership with UC San Francisco and UCLA to recruit and train up to 20,000 “contact tracers” who can help track down those who may have had contact with individuals testing positive for COVID-19.

A “virtual training academy” at both universities will begin Wednesday, and will involve 12 hours of online instruction and eight hours of in-person instruction.

The state currently has 3,000 people working as “contact tracers” in local health departments across the state.

The cost of the training will be paid for by the state and federal government.

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Melissa has been a journalist for over two decades, starting her career as a reporter covering health and religion and moving into local news. She has worked as an editor for eight years, including seven years at the Press Telegram before joining the Long Beach Post in June 2018. She also serves as a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach where she teaches multimedia journalism and writing.
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