Newsom reveals new state framework to provide path for businesses

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Malls, barbershops and hair salons can reopen Monday

On Friday, Aug. 28, California state Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled in a press conference a new blueprint for business sector reopenings that includes a color-coded, tiered system that will now use spread rate and test positive percentage to gauge whether a county would be allowed to reopen more businesses.

Newsom said the new system will be simple, slower and steady. It’s aimed at preventing a surge in infections, like the one between Memorial Day and July 4 as the state began reopening the first time around. That prompted Newsom to shut down bars, restaurants for indoor dining and a slew of other businesses about two months ago.

“We’re going to be more stubborn this time and have a mandatory wait time between moves. We didn’t do that last time,” Newsom said.

Not everyone was thrilled with the announcement of the new system.

“Just as the county was achieving strong reductions at hospitals and ICU beds, the entire ‘bend the curve’ program is tossed aside and we are placed in a new program more restrictive program,” Riverside County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Jeffries said Friday. “It’s extremely disappointing to watch the goalposts being moved further away by the state.”

Currently, Riverside County is in the purple tier, which reflects a widespread impact of COVID-19, and almost 90% of California counties are at that level. If the county improves its numbers, it would then move into red (substantial), then orange (moderate), and finally yellow (minimal) with the lowest restrictions.

Kevin Jeffries
Riverside County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. Valley News/Courtesy photo

In a press release issued by Riverside County on Friday evening, officials said the county’s numbers are trending “in the right direction.”

“Our businesses have adapted to all these restrictions in some very innovative and thoughtful ways, including moving outside,” Vice-Chair Karen Spiegel, Second District Supervisor, said in a statement. “Some of our businesses can now return to indoor operations, with safeguards in place. Businesses must continue to invest in protecting their employees and customers, as these measures help slow the spread and support economic recovery.”

According to the new system, malls may reopen in the purple tier at roughly 25 percent capacity. Hair salons and barbershops can reopen full on Monday.

According to the county press release, “Counties must remain at each tier for a minimum of 21 days. The state’s new website www.COVID19.ca.gov will track the metrics, show an interactive map and list business sectors open by each county.”

California has the most confirmed virus cases in the nation, with nearly 700,000, and the third-most deaths — 12,550. But since the closures last month, the average number of daily cases has been falling along with the infection rate and hospitalizations, which peaked at 7,170 on July 21 and since dropped to about 4,300.

The county also said the school waiver process will not be impacted by the new system and schools can reopen fully and without a waiver when the county is within the red tier for a minimum of two weeks.

Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com