California was the first state to issue statewide stay-at-home orders to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The governor received praises as the orders were successful in mitigating outbreaks like those seen in New York and other northeastern states. On April 28th, the governor issued new guidance for reopening public spaces called California’s Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience, which “discusses how the state is planning its path forward – in phases based on science, health and data.”[i]
Since then, the state has eased into “early stage 2,” and has allowed counties that meet certain health criteria to enter into the full, or “expanded stage 2” by filing an attestation form and receiving approval from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
There are some caveats to the roadmap. For instance, in counties approved for expanded stage 2, barbershops and salons will be allowed to reopen (with industry-specific guidelines), however nail salons, tattoo shops, and other personal services will not. And each county and city can have their own guidelines and restrictions, some that may be more stringent than the statewide orders.
As of May 27th, 46 of California’s 58 counties have been approved for expanded stage 2. Of the 12 counties that aren’t, some are choosing to opt out for the time being (many in the Bay Area), and other hard-hit counties like Los Angeles and Imperial aren’t able to meet the state’s criteria.[ii] These criteria include a minimum daily testing volume of 1.5 tests per 1,000 residents, stabilized or declining rates of infection, adequate hospital capacity and equipment, and contact tracing plans, among others.
If there are any changes to a county’s ability to meet criteria—for instance, increased rates of infection—they may be required to withdraw into earlier stages. The subsequent stages will depend on having a statewide COVID-19 surveillance system through testing, reporting, and tracing. Like stage two, regional variances could be supported.
In stage 3, higher-risk workplaces will be phased in, and workplace modifications and industry-specific guidelines will continue to be implemented. Even in stage 3, travel should be limited for permissible activities only, such as healthcare, food, stages 1-3 work, and local activities related to open sectors.
Stage 4 will end stay-at-home orders, however, things will not be back to “business-as-usual.” While all industries will be allowed to reopen in the final stage, there will likely be persistent safety measures and ongoing monitoring of infection rates.
California officials have purposely made the roadmap to reopening flexible to allow businesses to reopen as quickly as possible while also protecting and maintaining public health. The uncertainty of when and exactly how things will roll out is challenging, but the latest county variances will allow regions that are ready and capable of safely reopening to do so.
For many businesses, determining policies for reopening to ensure the safety of patrons and employees remains confusing. EBI Consulting’s environmental health and safety professionals can assist you as you look to responsibly reopen. Contact us today to see how we can help you protect your communities.