KEY POINTS

  • Yuba, Sutter, and Modoc Counties in California reopened businesses with social distancing measures ahead of the state plans
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the counties were “putting their public at risk”
  • California has more than 55,000 COVID-19 cases despite being one of the earliest states to implement a state-wide shelter-in-place order

The neighboring counties of Yuba and Sutter in California followed Modoc County and allowed businesses to reopen despite statewide orders by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom criticized the early reopening of some California counties. He announced earlier that his state would follow a phased, gradual reopening to mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

He also said the counties were “making a big mistake” and “putting their public at risk.”

County officials were not fazed by the governor’s comments.

Sutter County Supervisor Mike Ziegenmeyer said that the counties were following recommendations of their shared public health officer in allowing restaurants, hairstylists and retail shops to serve customers as long as health restrictions are followed.

Ziegenmeyer plans to urge county officials to continue to allow businesses to stay open.

Newsome offered a conciliatory note when he said that the counties put social distancing requirements into reopening directives but also said that they must continue to follow formal processes for implementation.

California is among the first states to implement a statewide shelter-in-place order. Several lawsuits have been raised against Newsom’s orders. The courts recently upheld California’s ban on church services while the pandemic continues to ravage the state.

In the face of intense pressure to speed up his state’s reopening, Newsom announced Monday (May 5) that some restrictions will be loosened by Friday and that counties will be able to make some decisions independently.

Newsome also stressed that areas like Southern California and Bay Area, where the coronavirus outbreak is more severe, can continue to implement stricter rules to control the spread of the disease.

Guidelines and requirements for the reopening of businesses across California are expected to be released on Thursday but Newsom warned that he may reimpose restrictions if the situation deteriorates.

Officials are favoring a gradual opening of businesses in California in order to avoid a second surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.

California has seen more than 55,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 2,200 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of actual infections is expected to be significantly higher due to a lack of testing.