California Gov. Gavin Newsom Relaxing State Restrictions

Gavin Newsom - news conference at the California justice department on September 18, 2019 - Getty 2 - H 2020
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The governor on Monday noted during his daily coronavirus briefing that should the positive rate be held down, in-person retail and sporting events without spectators could resume in the first week of June.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday declared that 53 of the 58 state counties are eligible to move into phase two of reopening if they so choose.

During his daily coronavirus briefing, the governor noted that the loosening of stay-at-home orders would depend on the number of COVID-19-related deaths in the previous two weeks. Counties will be able to move toward reopening if they can prove that there have been no more than 25 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 14 days. Counties must also be able to show that less than 8 percent of residents tested for the virus over a seven-day period were positive. 

Should the "positive rate" be held down, in-person retail, salons and sporting events (without spectators) could begin to resume operation in the first week of June. Newsom also announced that counseling services at houses of worship may be allowed to resume, as well as gatherings of clergy member, but the state is more than "a few weeks away" from whole congregations gathering. 

To move into the next phase, a county also must show that hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients did not increase by more than 5 percent over a seven-day period or that it did not have more than a 5 percent increase or no more than 20 hospitalizations on any single day over a seven-day period.

"We are moving forward to allow some of the larger counties to continue to make progress deeper into phase two and to do so effective immediately, but on their own pace," the governor said. "We want to make sure that the counties have thoughtful plans to potentially reinstate the stay-at-home orders that we are relaxing today."

"The bottom line," Newsom added, "is people can go at their own pace, and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions."

During the press briefing, the governor applauded the state's progress. In recent weeks, there has been a 7.5 percent decline in hospitalizations and an 8.7 percent decline in ICU patients over a 14-day period. As of Monday, Newsom said, California has 51.6 million masks in possession, and over 57,000 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours. 

He emphasized that despite the loosening of rules, the virus "has not gone away" as another 41 COVID-19-related deaths occurred in the state in the last 24 hours.