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When Is California Reopening?

May 21, 2020 (0) comment , , ,

Here’s what you need to know about the state’s plan to reopen for business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Venice Beach on May 17.
Credit…Ryan Young for The New York Times


California was the first state in the nation to order all residents to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that state health officials would relax their criteria for counties that want to reopen their economies faster, provided that they meet public health guidelines.

Going forward, officials said they were no longer requiring counties to have zero Covid-19 deaths for two weeks.

Mr. Newsom and his administration estimated that all but five of California’s 58 counties would qualify for a variance. It’s unclear which counties would apply, but the list is unlikely to include some of the state’s most populous, including Los Angeles, which slightly loosened its stay-at-home order on May 8.

Things are changing quickly.

Here’s what you need to know:


Mr. Newsom said that the number would be clearer in the coming days. Each county will have to file documentation showing that it qualifies for a variance from the statewide order, including instituting sufficient testing for communities and proving that local hospital capacity can accommodate a surge of 35 percent as a result of new Covid-19 cases.

Here’s a list of the 39 counties that have filed documentation showing that they have met the readiness criteria for reopening.

[See our map of coronavirus cases in California by county.]


In April, state leaders unveiled a timeline for how California plans to reopen schools, businesses and public spaces. The framework, which consists of four phases, lays out how the state will inch toward those goals. Counties that were approved for a variance from the statewide order can move further into Stage 2, including opening retail stores and dine-in restaurants, with strict modifications.

  • Stage 1, which the state has passed, means government and private organizations are working to make it consistently safer for essential workers, like grocery employees or nurses. Those workers need more protective equipment and a more robust testing and tracing system.

  • Stage 2, which California entered in early May, is when some lower-risk businesses and public spaces can reopen, with strict modifications that allow for social distancing.

  • Stage 3 will be when higher-risk businesses may reopen, with modifications.

  • Stage 4 will be the end of the state’s stay-at-home order.

Read more about each phase, including what will remain closed.

Beaches are now open (with several restrictions) in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Diego and Santa Barbara Counties.

Currently, beaches in 15 counties are open for some activities. There are no counties whose beaches are fully open.

Pismo Beach, on the Central Coast, is open, except for the Pier.

While many Native American tribal casinos in California remain closed, at least through the end of May, some have forged ahead, including three in San Diego County.

On May 15, Mr. Newsom urged a group of tribal leaders in the state to reconsider reopening their casinos in the coming days.

“I understand that some tribal governments are planning on reopening casinos on their lands,” Mr. Newsom wrote. “This deeply concerns me, and I urge tribal governments to reconsider and instead make those determinations based on how they align with the current local public health conditions and the statewide stage of reopening.”

One of the state’s largest tribal casinos, Viejas Casino & Resort, reopened with stricter cleaning procedures. Sycuan announced a Phase 1 reopening for May 20, with limited capacity and select gaming machines, and Valley View Casino & Hotel will open its doors on May 22.

Pechanga Tribal Leadership announced that it was targeting a reopening date of June 1 for Pechanga Resort Casino, one of the largest casinos in America.

Casinos that remain closed include: Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Placer County; Cache Creek Casino in Yolo County; Morongo Casino Resort in Riverside County; San Manuel Casino in San Bernardino County; and Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Kings County.

Tribes are sovereign authorities and not subject to state and local restrictions on operations during the pandemic.


California State University, the country’s largest four-year public university system, said that in-person classes at its 23 campuses would be scrapped for the fall semester, with instruction taking place almost entirely online.

The state’s other four-year university system, the University of California, with nearly 300,000 students on 10 campuses, has not announced whether its fall classes will be held online, in-person or in a hybrid format.

The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking individual colleges’ plans for the fall. You can search for individual plans here.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released more detailed guidance for schools, businesses, transit systems and other industries hoping to reopen safely amid the pandemic after fear that the White House had shelved the guidelines.

The 60-page document, which a C.D.C. spokesman said was uploaded over the weekend, adds great detail to six charts that the C.D.C. had released last week.


No announcement was made for hair salons, which are considered higher-risk businesses and are part of the Stage 3 reopening. Mr. Newsom did not give a firm date, but said salons and barbers could reopen within a few weeks.


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