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California Eases Reopening Criteria; Stage 3 May Be Weeks Away.

California Eases Reopening Criteria; Stage 3 May Be Weeks Away.

Most California counties can now reopen more quickly, while in-store shopping and pro sports could resume by June, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Hair salons, in-store retail, houses of worship and professional sports venues across California could reopen within weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday, saying the entire state may soon be ready to move into Stage 3 of its four-part reopening plan if current coronavirus trends hold.

The possibility of easing the statewide stay-home order comes amid declining hospitalizations and intensive care admissions from COVID-19.

Statewide, California has seen a 7.5% decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the last two weeks, and an 8.7% decline in ICU admissions, Newsom said, speaking via livestream Monday afternoon from a restaurant in Napa County.

“We are seeing a significant, steady rate of decline over a long period of time,” Newsom said.

When professional sports resume as early as the first week of June, they will be without spectators and with safety measures in place, he said.

Also on Monday, Newsom eased the criteria that counties must meet before they apply to reopen faster than the state.

Now, 53 of California’s 58 counties may now be eligible to move further into Stage 2, possibly allowing dine-in restaurants, schools and other services to reopen, Newsom said.

It will be up to each county to decide whether it wants to do so. The governor didn’t immediately specify which counties have been deemed eligible by the state.

Previously, counties wishing to move further into Stage 2 had to meet a daunting number of criteria, including having no new COVID-19 deaths and no more than one new case per 10,000 residents over a two-week period. So far, 24 counties, largely rural areas in Northern California, have successfully “self-attested” under this plan.

Under the new rules, counties need to report no more than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents, or less than an 8% positive rate among newly-reported coronavirus tests. They must also report less than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over 7 days, or, for smaller counties, fewer than 20 total hospitalizations over 14 days.

Earlier Monday, three holdout Bay Area counties announced they were moving further into Stage 2, joining San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, which made the same move last week.

The entire state moved into this stage May 8, allowing curbside retail and manufacturing to resume, but Newsom has stressed that counties were free to leave stricter limits in place if they wished.

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