California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that some retail shops in the state can begin to reopen at the end of the week as part of a phased exit from the social distancing measures meant to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.
Shops including clothing stores, florists and bookstores will be allowed to offer curbside pickup services starting Friday, the Democratic governor announced, noting that the guidelines for reopening will be released on Thursday.
"Millions of Californians answered the call to stay home and thanks to them, we are in a position to begin moving into our next stage of modifying our stay-at-home order," Newsom said in announcing the move.
"But make no mistake -- this virus isn't gone. It's still dangerous and poses a significant public health risk," he continued.
All reopenings in the state will be subject to active monitoring and surveillance, though Newsom noted that some counties will be allowed to move further into the reopening process if certified by health officials and county supervisors.
"We will afford them that right with conditions and modifications that meet the health needs of the entire state," he said.
The announcement comes as more states plan phased reopenings of businesses and other gathering places, despite public health professionals having repeatedly stressed the dangers of relaxing social distancing measures too early.
Experts widely agree that to control the epidemic in the absence of strict social distancing measures, states and localities will need to build the capacity for additional testing and contact tracing
That process of identifying new cases of Covid-19 and then tracking down and quarantining anyone who could have been infected by those newly identified cases would be crucial to returning to normal life.
As a result, Newsom shared his plan for a "tracing army" in the state -- a training program led by the University of California Los Angeles and University of California San Francisco that will teach people how to trace and track the disease through a virtual academy.
Each recruit will go through 20 hours of training, 12 hours online and eight hours in person.
Approximately 3,000 people have been identified as tracers already and are set to begin their first training course, which goes online Wednesday, Newsom said. The first phase will train about 10,000 people, with a goal of reaching 20,000 tracers.
Still, Newsom faces a set of unique challenges in reopening California, the US' largest state economy. One is managing crowds on California's hundreds of miles of coastline as social distancing measures are relaxed.
Beaches in the cities of Laguna Beach and San Clemente have been granted permission to reopen on a limited basis, Newsom said Monday, after he ordered a hard closure for all Orange County beaches last week after significant crowds had flocked to the sand.
"We have the same collaborative spirit with our counties, overwhelmingly, with few exceptions," Newsom said. "But I'm confident that we'll bring them back into the fold."