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California Enters Stage 2 Reopening With Local Variations To Come

Erik Neumann / JPR

California businesses deemed “low-risk” can begin the newest stage of reopening on Friday. And even broader reopenings in rural counties could come soon after.

Retail businesses including clothing stores, sporting goods stores, florists and home furnishing businesses, are among those that are now allowed to sell products via curbside pickup and delivery.

“We’ll see a lot more hand sanitizer outside the door,” says California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly. “You’ll see staff from the retailers coming out to your car to deliver goods with gloves and a mask on.”

This is the first part of California’s Stage 2 opening.

Ghaly says some rural counties will be able to open a greater number of workplaces if they’re able to meet certain California public health criteria.

Counties will be able to apply for a “local variance” to open faster than the rest of the state. To do so they’ll need to meet a range of criteria including no COVID-19 deaths in a two-week span, ensuring counties have high testing levels, and surge capacity at local hospitals, among other requirements.

Gov. Newsom’s office will present more details on local variance guidelines on Tuesday.

“We are going to be able to add more businesses and sectors as the data allows us, as the guidance is created, and as we assure that we are able to reduce risk,” Ghaly says.

A local variance will need to have approval from a county’s public health officer, Board of Supervisors, and local hospital or health care system.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.