The Western States Pact And California’s Plans To Reopen

Ashlyn Davis Ashlyn Davis


What California’s “new normal” might look like—particularly for restaurants and diners.

On April 13, the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington announced an agreement on collaborating in the reopening their economies and managing COVID-19 going forward. While no specific timeline was mentioned—and the current restrictions have been extended—the pact marks the first step towards resuming some level of normalcy.

The shared statement read, “COVID-19 doesn’t follow state or national boundaries. It will take every level of government, working together, and a full picture of what’s happening on the ground.

The joint statement from the governors announced that while each individual state would be building out their own plan, that all would follow these basic principles:

  • The health of residents comes first.
  • Decisions will be based on health outcomes and science – not politics.
  • Working together is the only way to effectively to manage the situation.

The shared goals for containing the spread of the virus included protecting vulnerable, ensuring adequate medical resources, protecting disadvantaged communities and the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating.

In an address on Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom painted a picture of what the new normal would look like. Although, he emphasized that, “normal, it will not be—at least until we have herd immunity and we have a vaccine.”

Eating out

In restaurants and diners, Newsom suggested that you’d likely be dining with half the usual capacity of the restaurant and you’d be served by a waiter wearing a mask and gloves (which is already mandated). Further measures were suggested such as, “dinner where the menu is disposable,” and “where your temperature is checked before you walk into the establishment. These are likely scenarios as we begin to process the next phase and next iteration.”

Although, these measures may only be temporary until businesses are able to make a full transition to operating online.

Social distancing

The transition to a new version of normal will include ongoing reevaluations and the development of new physical distancing guidelines, oscillating between looser and stricter measures. Newsom stated that  “there’s no light switch here.” This could mean that sanitation protocols and protective wear might be more prominent when reentering public domains, such as parks, streets and businesses. Schooling, on the other hand, will likely see a huge shift to distance learning.

Large social gatherings

Festivals and major events were aspects that seemed to be concretely ruled out.  “The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine,” Newsom stated.

“We need to see a decline in the rate of spread of the virus before large-scale reopening, and we will be working in coordination to identify the best metrics to guide this,” the governors said.

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