California has been in lock-down mode for a few months now due to the coronavirus pandemic, and we’re all waiting rather patiently for the day to come when small businesses and public facilities will begin to reopen.
We find ourselves looking for guidance from state and federal legislators, medical health professionals, religious institutions, and news agencies, waiting for signs and predictors that might give us a clue to this complex puzzle of uncertainty. Yet, the more we look the more we begin to realize…
Nobody really seems to have the answers.
Governor Gavin Newsom of California recently submitted his plans to move the state out of the current stay-at-home order. This four stage plan echoes what most health professionals have been exhorting the general public to do, and that’s to lift the stay-at-home order very slowly, so that we can avoid another serious spike in the fight against the virus.
There seems to be, however, a few ambiguous benchmarks in Gov Newsom’s plan.
The first stage proposes that we build up testing, tracing, PPE, and hospitality. Currently California has recorded testing only about 2% of the entire state population. Indeed it is imperative we expand and increase our testing efforts if we are to relish in that fresh California air anytime soon. The governor has mentioned that there will be new testing sites momentarily, after recently receiving a much needed shipment of specimen swabs from the federal government.
The rest of the first stage revolves around preparing safety guidelines for each sector of the workforce, and making our essential workers as safe as possible. This all sounds very familiar…wait, have we been in stage one this entire time?!
The second phase seems to reinforce our current standing in the escape plan. Part of it involves opening up “lower-risk” workplaces that have been “adapted” for social distancing. This means curbside pickup for retail stores, reopening manufacturing businesses, and even increasing access to public spaces. This stage seems to include only the businesses that can limit customers running around, which allows for greater control of the spreading of the virus.
The third stage is one we have yet to see, and is identified as opening “higher-risk” workplaces. Here’s where we’ll start to see places like restaurants open, salons, gyms, religious services, and even…sports? The National Basketball Association is predicted to continue in May, barring jurisdictions that aren’t under a shelter-in-place order.
“The potential rule changes would allow teams to make their practice facilities available for use by the team’s players for workouts or treatment on a voluntary, individual basis if the team’s facility is in a city that is no longer subject to a government restriction,” the league states.
These allowances in stage three will only take place with strict social distancing in place, which in the case of NBA sports means– no live audiences allowed. Movie theaters are also expected to open up during this time, again only with strict social distancing in place.
The fourth and last stage is the most ambiguous of all, and will harold the end of the stay-at-home order. In this stage the highest-risk environments will be reopened: live sporting events with fans, concerts, festivals, conventions, etc.
Gov. Newsome has commented that stage three is still months away (excluding the NBA), and stage four is completely contingent on whenever we have treatment available, which could be months, a year, or quite possibly longer.
With all of these different businesses and facilities mentioned, schools are a big question that needs answering. Governor Newsome has lumped it in with the gradual reopening of lower-risk businesses in stage two, which means schools may possibly begin opening in as early July or August.
Dr. Sonia Angell, California’s state director of the Department of Public Health, lays it out for us very plainly, “When the data tells us that the moment is right, those environments can start to open.”
John Rosenbaum is an Orange County worker’s compensation and personal injury attorney.