California Reopening: What Are the Four Stages?

California's Reopening Plan

Getty California's Reopening Plan

Governor Newsom has said that reopening California will begin on Friday, as part of a four-stage plan. Here is a look into those four stages:


Stage 1: Safety and Preparedness

According to the California government, stage 1 is where we are now.

It includes building out testing, contacting tracing, PPE, and hospital surge capacity. It also involves preparing sector-by-sector safety guidelines for an expanded workforce.

The biggest key here seems to be consistency. The government and private organizations are working to make everything safe for essential workers on as consistent a basis as possible.


Stage 2: Lower Risk Workplaces

Stage 2 includes gradually opening some lower-risk workplaces and public spaces, such as:

– Retail (with curbside pickup)
– Manufacturing
– Offices (if working remotely is not possible)
– Opening more public spaces

Social distancing guidelines will still be in place.

This phase also includes opening schools and childcare facilities with adaptations. It specifies that next school year has the potential to start around July or August. When Governor Newsom spoke on schools, he spoke in opposition to some state officials who urge that without a vaccine, schools will not reopen. The New York Times has reported the possibility of staggering classes.

State officials have specified that shopping malls and restaurants will open in the latter part of stage 2 (and not on Friday.)


Stage 3: High-Risk Workplaces

This stage involves opening higher risk environments with adaptations and limits on the size of gatherings.

These include hair and nail salons, gyms, movie theaters, sports without live audiences, and in-person religious services.


Stage 4: End of Stay-At-Home Order

Stage 4 includes re-opening high-risk workplaces, from concerts and convention centers to live audiences sports.


Governor Newsom has reiterated that the changes outlined in these four stages will only find success if done slowly and thoughtfully. The New York Times quotes him as saying, “If our behavior radically changes, we risk the framework we’re advancing.”

In a statement, State Public Health Officer Sonia Angell seconded those sentiments. “We want to make sure that both the workers and the customers are safe in these settings, which means that there will be modifications to ensure physical distancing and [to make] sure that the unique circumstances of those workplaces will be addressed,” she said.

On Tuesday, Newsom said that stage 2 is still two weeks away, while stages 3 and 4 are months away. He prefaced that stage 4 will only be allowed when there is a vaccine for coronavirus.

Some retail stores, however, may open as early as Friday. “We are entering into the next phase this week. This is a very positive sign and it’s happened only for one reason: The data says it can happen.”

Decisions will be made at the local level, meaning that some areas will advance quicker than others. Communities wanting to move to the next phase must submit “containment plans” that meet requirements for hospital beds, testing kits, and the ability to track infected people and trace their contacts, according to LA Times.

Detailed guidelines are expected to be released later this week.

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