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Newsom Says Some Business Can Reopen This Week. Restaurants May Soon Follow.

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SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will move into the second phase of his reopening plan as early as Friday, allowing lower-risk workplaces to resume operations with modifications to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.

The plan outlined Monday includes a range of retailers that would be permitted to go back to work including clothing stores, bookstores and florists — using curbside pickup. Newsom says a key consideration for entering Phase 2 is the ability for health authorities to test and conduct contact tracing of infections.

He said state guidelines that businesses will need to adhere to will be released Thursday.

Newsom also said individual counties will have the ability to move more quickly to open other businesses in his Phase 2 category, including dine-in restaurants, by using a “local certification” method that must be approved by the state health department.

“One thing I know, very well, is that many of these counties, these regions, already have done a ton of work in this space and they’re ready to go. And so I have great expectation that you’re going to see a lot of these communities with local certification in place,” Newsom said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Businesses in two more Northern California counties reopened Monday, with customers cautiously sipping coffee in a restaurant with masks dangling from their necks in silent defiance of the governor’s statewide stay-at-home order.

Three California Counties Have Opened Restaurants and Additional Stores

Yuba and Sutter counties followed last week’s lead of rural Modoc County amid pressure to restart California’s economy, even as hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue.

At Lambert House Cafe in Yuba City, owner Natalie Lambert opened her doors for the first time since mid-March. She closed two booths to keep customers from sitting too close to each other. and all of her employees, including the cook, wore a mask.

“I’m a nervous wreck,” she said. “Everybody needs to keep their lights on and food in their bellies.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s six-week-old order requires nearly 40 million residents to remain mostly at home. Businesses not deemed essential were ordered closed until COVID-19 testing, hospital and death rates indicate the state outbreak is beginning to ease. Millions of people have been unable to work.

Sutter and Yuba counties are allowing restaurants, retailers, shopping malls, gyms, salons, libraries and even tattoo parlors to reopen, but only if they limit the number of people inside and enforce physical distancing.

Have Not Received Approval from Governor

Sutter County Supervisor Dan Flores said the decision was made by the counties’ shared health officer, Dr. Phuong Luu. Flores says county leaders have tried many times in vain to get the Newsom administration to review their plan.

“I don’t think we can say, ‘defy the governor,’ when we don’t know what the governor thinks because he hasn’t responded to our request,” Flores said.

Newsom’s office did not reply to an email seeking comment.

Jeff Holland and his sister, Mia Holland, sat at a booth at Lambert House Cafe while a waitress wearing a yellow face mask took their order. Both work at fast-food restaurants where drive-thrus have stayed open during the pandemic, saying it didn’t feel that different to be out. Neither wore a mask.

“I feel like we’re out every day and if it hasn’t gotten us now, we should be OK,” Jeff Holland said.

More than 2,200 Californians have died from the coronavirus and nearly 55,000 have been confirmed to have it, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because of a shortage of testing.

Newsom Approves New Beach Usage Plan for Orange County

On Monday, Newsom’s administration approved the reopening of beaches in the Orange County cities of Laguna Beach and San Clemente. The state Natural Resources Agency said the cities submitted plans with measures to avoid overcrowding and enable physical distancing.

The approvals came days after Newsom ordered all Orange County beaches closed because of large crowds that flocked there during a heat wave late last month. Some people still tried to go to the off-limits beaches this past weekend.

Newsom Emphasizing Cautious Approach

The governor has promised a cautious, phased reopening of the state.

On Monday, his administration approved the reopening of beaches in the Orange County cities of Laguna Beach and San Clemente. The state Natural Resources Agency said the cities submitted plans with measures to avoid overcrowding and enable physical distancing.

The approvals came days after Newsom ordered all Orange County beaches closed because of large crowds that flocked there during a heat wave late last month. Some people still tried to go to the off-limits beaches this past weekend.

Newport Beach city spokesman John Pope said lifeguards and police officers asked more than 2,500 people to leave. Huntington Beach police said people were cooperating.

In northeast California, Modoc County Sheriff Tex Dowdy said the zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the county’s 9,000 residents was a deciding factor in allowing a “staged, safe” reopening last Friday.

Yuba and Sutter counties, north of Sacramento, are much bigger with a combined population of about 175,000 people — many of whom commute to jobs in the capital region. The counties have seen 50 confirmed cases of the disease and three deaths.

Jesse Villicana, owner of Cool Hand Luke’s steakhouse in Yuba City, said 25 employees who were laid off returned to work Sunday to help prepare for the reopening. He was eager to welcome customers back into the bar and dining room but wary of the slow return to business as usual. Customers must sit a booth apart, meaning he can only fill half of the restaurant.

For the vast majority of people, coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The virus can be spread in close quarters by people who don’t know they’ve contracted it.