Orange County will let dine-in restaurants, offices and retail stores reopen immediately after it met state requirements for declining hospitalizations and new cases, illustrating California’s local approach to reopening the most populous state.
Signs explaining what is allowed and not allowed on the beach are displayed at the pier in Seal … [+]
Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images
In-person dining, retail shopping, manufacturing, offices (where teleworking isn’t possible) and outdoor museums will be allowed to reopen immediately under safety guidelines to ensure social distancing.
Under Governor Gavin Newsom’s statewide plan, individual counties can reopen more quickly if they meet certain requirements: hospitalizations need to be trending down and the county has to have less than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents, or have less than 8% testing positive in the past 7 days.
Salons, religious services and gyms still aren’t allowed to reopen throughout the state, though Newsom said he will announce next week when those establishments will be allowed to reopen.
54 of California’s 58 counties have met the criteria for an accelerated reopening, but major population hubs, including Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area are still under stricter shelter-in-place orders.
“The County of Orange has met the State’s latest metrics to remove its restrictions on the re-opening of more businesses,” said Michelle Steel, chair of the county’s board of supervisors. “… With this attestation, it is our goal to ensure all Orange County businesses have the confidence to open as safely and as soon as possible without concerns about the state order.”
Orange County clashed with Newsom earlier this month when the governor ordered the county’s beaches to close down. Local officials decried the decision, which was made after photographs of packed beaches in the county went viral. A week later, Newsom agreed to reopen the beaches if they limited hours of operation and enforced social distancing guidelines.
Though the number of cases within the entire state increased 9% over the last 14 days, according to CovidExitStrategy.org, the number of positive tests as a percentage of total tests taken decreased 4.1%. The testing piece does satisfy the White House criteria for reopening, though those guidelines are non-binding, and California has chosen its own approach using different metrics.
California’s local approach was in the spotlight earlier this month when Alameda County opted for more stringent reopening rules than the state. The move extended the closure of Tesla TSLA ’s Fremont manufacturing plant, resulting in a showdown between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and county officials. Alameda County eventually allowed manufacturing to reopen under the statewide rule.