California to ease coronavirus restrictions from Friday
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Some retailers in California, including bookstores, flower shops and clothing stores, will be allowed to reopen for business at the end of the week, the state’s governor announced on Monday.
“Millions of Californians answered the call to stay home and thanks to them, we are in a position to begin moving into our next stage of modifying our stay at home order,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “But make no mistake — this virus isn’t gone. It’s still dangerous and poses a significant public health risk.”
His announcement came following protests across the state last week to demand the lifting of restrictions that have kept the majority of Californians at home and crippled the state’s economy, one of the largest in the world.
Under the second phase of the reopening process outlined by the governor, some retail stores can open on Friday for pickup only, while manufacturing and logistics businesses will also be able to get back to work.
Newsom said other sectors that fall into this second phase, such as offices and dine-in restaurants, will open at a later date.
The Democratic governor said that some counties can move quickly through Stage 2, but they must first prove that they meet the state’s readiness criteria for hospital beds, testing kits and contact tracing.
Other counties in the Bay Area, which were the first in the country to order lockdowns and which have experienced a high rate of infection, will likely start lifting restrictions at a later date, Newsom said.
He said Stage 3 of lifting restrictions would begin in months and include the reopening of hair salons, nail bars, gyms and sports competitions without fans. The final stage would amount to the lifting of all restrictions and allow for the opening of movie theatres and sporting events.
That stage, however, is not expected before a vaccine is discovered and made widely available.
California as of Monday had recorded nearly 55,000 cases of COVID-19 and 2,211 deaths.
Los Angeles County alone has recorded nearly 26,000 cases and 1,229 deaths. (AFP)