California could be days away from loosening parts of its stay-at-home order to fight the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.
“We’re getting very, very close to making some announcements that I think will be very meaningful to people,” Newsom said at his daily coronavirus news conference.
The changes would apply to the retail and hospitality industries, and could be announced as soon as early next week, Newsom said. But he warned the virus could spread rapidly again if portions of the economy are reopened without social distancing guidelines.
“We said weeks, not months, about four or five days ago,” Newsom said. “I want to say many days, not weeks, as long as we continue to be prudent and thoughtful in certain modifications.”
Pressure has been increasing on Newsom from some parts of the state to ease the stay-at-home order he put in place March 19. Several rural counties asked him this week to let them reopen, and Modoc County, in far northeastern California, didn’t wait for his approval. It reopened businesses, schools, churches and doctors’ offices on Friday, adding that it had imposed safety precautions.
Newsom touched on those anxieties Friday, telling rural Californians he is weighing their concerns and could ease some rules on a regional basis.
“I deeply understand the rural differentiation,” he said. “We’re not turning our back to those concerns.”
Newsom also encountered pushback from his order Thursday temporarily closing all beaches in Orange County after many people went there last weekend to escape a heat wave. The governor said there were too many instances of improper social distancing, an assertion local officials disputed. Some said news photos of the beaches gave a misleading impression of what was going on.
Two cities in Orange County, San Clemente and Huntington Beach, said they plan to sue the state over Newsom’s beach closure. The governor shrugged off those threats Friday, saying, “All I can say is, doesn’t surprise me.”
Dustin Gardiner is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] @dustingardiner