In a surprise move given some of his rhetoric in the last couple of weeks, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday that as part of Phase 2 (or an early Phase 3) of the state's reopening, county health officials can reopen businesses like dine-in restaurants and offices. But they first have to show that virus spread is under control in their county, and that they have sufficient hospital capacity, and a "containment plan" for an outbreak including a contact-tracing program.
"We’re moving forward but we’re doing it, always, with an eye being led by the data, by the science, by public health," said Newsom in his daily briefing today, per the LA Times. And the announcement comes after rural counties like Modoc, Yuba, and Sutter were already moving ahead with their own reopening timelines.
Solano County appeared all ready to move forward with such a move, reopening restaurants a week from Friday, according to a report this morning — and the health officer there may already have heard word that Newsom was planning this announcement.
The reopening of businesses including manufacturing plants and other workplaces, Newsom says, will be contingent on modifications like the closing of break rooms, and the availability of adequate sanitation. Also, in order for a county to begin opening these businesses, and its dine-in restaurants, county health officers will have to submit their containment strategies to the state, including numbers of testing kits, hospital beds, and contact-tracing apparatuses. And, as the Chronicle reports, the county will need to have had zero coronavirus deaths for 14 straight days, and have 1 or fewer active cases per 10,000 residents.
Also, the plan for reopening restaurants comes with some stark changes that may not make dining as we know it all that comfy, for the time being. Salt and pepper shakers are out — although those were a rarity in SF fine dining anyway. Only family members and those who share a household will be able to dine together (but who's checking?). And servers will have to be masked. This is according to a draft plan from the Restaurant Association obtained by KPIX.
The San Francisco Bay Area is not likely to join in this reopening fever anytime soon, with the exception of Solano County, though Sonoma and Napa could join in in the coming days. Neither county has seen the kinds of outbreaks that more urban parts of the Bay Area have, and they have only recorded five deaths between them — while Solano County has seen seven deaths, one in the last two days.
Meanwhile, health officials in six Bay Area counties that are working in concert — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and San Mateo — reiterated Thursday that the current order in place for the entire month of May does not allow for curbside pickup from non-essential retail businesses, let alone any other loosening of restrictions.
Newsom already announced earlier this week that other kind of retail businesses, like bookstores and toy stores, could reopen with curbside pickup of items — but only if their county officials allow it.
According to polling in recent weeks, almost 70 percent of Bay Area residents are more concerned that sheltering orders will end too soon, versus 20 percent who worry they will extend for too long.
As state Senator Scott Wiener tells the Chronicle, "The Bay Area is deeply committed to public health, not just the government but the residents. People here understand the importance of good public health, whether it’s vaccinations, our very painful fight against HIV or strong access to health care. This community gets it when it comes to health in general and strong public health responses in particular."