On June 12th, Governor Newsom announced that California has entered phase 3 of 4 in the state’s reopening plan. Phase three focuses heavily on what has been deemed “higher-risk workplaces” where groups of people are likely to congregate including bars and other entertainment venues. These are the places expected to reopen and the changes patrons can expect. While the state has allowed these businesses to reopen, the final call lies with the individual counties.
Cocktails, Wine, and Beer
For the past few months, in an effort to bring in some revenue, many California bars have been offering beer, wine, and cocktails to go with the purchase of food. Bars and breweries that don’t serve food have had to remain closed until now. In phase 3, they can now welcome guests back but with similar safety restrictions to those imposed on restaurants. Bars must prioritize outdoor seating and keep guests at least 6 feet apart. Fresh glasses must be provided from every new drink, even if its a refill. Employees are required to wear masks and some establishments are implementing wellness checks.
Wineries were some of the hardest-hit beverage businesses during the crises. Since they don’t serve food, wineries couldn’t open in any capacity and had to rely on internet sales. Now, tasting rooms are welcoming oenophiles back as safely as possible. The Wine Institute began working with an expert from Johns Hopkins and an OSHA legal expert to figure out how best to reopen safely to the public. Wellness screens are required of all employees daily, 6-foot social distancing will be implemented for both employees and guests, and visitors are encouraged to call ahead and make reservations before coming to a tasting room. A few wineries are moving tastings outdoors for added safety.
Much like wineries, many breweries were happy to hear that food service was no longer required to sell alcohol. Breweries across the state have been revamping their spaces to allow for social distancing. Some, are even expanding outdoor space into their parking lots to maximize how many customers they can allow (decreased occupancy is still required).
Recreation and Sports
Back in March, there was a flurry of online orders for home workout equipment as gyms closed across the state. Gyms posed a particular challenge for reopening. Frequently, the spaces are small, the equipment is shared, and patrons are breathing hard near one another. Many fitness centers are removing equipment to help gym-goers stay 6 feet apart. Class sizes are also being reduced and reservation-only. Many gyms are posting hand sanitizing stations or increasing the number already available. One gym is going so far as to construct plastic pods for a solo workout experience. At this time, the state does not require masks to enter a gym, but individual fitness centers can choose to make masks a necessity for entry.
California’s favorite teams are getting back in the game this June. The state has decreed that training and competitive matches can resume with one big change. No fans. Pro teams are expected to broadcast or live stream their games. Competing before empty stands will probably feel very different for the players. Maybe some teams will follow Korea’s example and fill the stands with stuffed animals or cardboard cutouts?
Public Schools Return
The 2019-2020 school year came to a very quiet close but California is saying students can return to in-person schooling this fall. This is posing a lot of concerns for school officials who have been requesting guidance and funding from the state. Some school districts have been trying to figure out transportation. With social distancing restrictions, some school busses would only be allowed to carry 14 passengers. The bus fleet would have to double before the fall in order to get every student to school reliably. Other schools are thinking about staggering in-person classroom time with teachers, half the class on Monday/Wednesday and the other half on Tuesday/Thursday. Fridays and off days would be spent distance learning ensuring physical classrooms stay as socially distant as possible. Some schools are considering one-way halls, hand washing breaks between lessons, and making students eat lunch at their desks instead of in a cafeteria. So far, there is no “one size fits all” solution.