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Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 5/19/20, AM


California Weeks Away From Phase 3 / California Casinos Reopen Without Social Distancing

California Weeks Away From Phase 3

Health indicators related to COVID-19 have improved around the state. At a press conference held at a Napa County restaurant called Mustard’s Grill, Governor Gavin Newsom said in the last two weeks, hospitalizations have dropped by 7.5 percent. ICU cases have declined by 8.7 percent.

Those kinds of numbers prompted the Bay Area to join much of the state in phase two, allowing curbside retail and modified manufacturing. Newsom said if the numbers keep improving, he expects to allow society to open up further in the next few weeks.

“That would allow for retail, not just to be picked up but in-store retail to be loosened up. In addition to that sporting events, pro sports, in that first week or so of June without spectators and modifications and very prescriptive conditions also can begin to move forward. And a number of other sectors of our economy will open up, again, if we hold these trend lines in the next number of weeks. And that includes, by the way, getting a haircut.”

California is already relaxing some of its reopening criteria and that could mean most of the state may soon be offering services such as dining at restaurants.

Newsom estimated 53 of 58 counties could meet the new standards.

California Casinos Reopen Without Social Distancing

One of California's largest tribal casinos reopened, yesterday, to a large crowd wearing facial coverings. More will open this week. At least one public health official acknowledged tribes are sovereign authorities and not subject to state and local restrictions on operating amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Viejas Casino & Resort is in Alpine, east of San Diego. Within an hour of its 8 a.m. opening, the first three floors of the four-story parking garage were full.

The casino has 25 hundred slot machines on site. Every other one was turned off, but the strong turnout meant many customers were still playing less than six feet apart. Card dealers worked with up to three players at a table — they were also less than six feet apart, and there were no barriers separating them.

Customers were required to have their foreheads scanned for temperatures. Electronic signs across the casino floor told them — “Let's Play Again!” — while also instructing them to stay six feet apart, wash hands for 20 seconds, avoid touching eyes, noses and mouths and come back another day if they were feeling sick.

Last week, San Diego County’s top public health officer backed off from her earlier criticism of reopening plans.

She met with tribal leaders to discuss their plans. She noted that casinos are in the third stage of California’s reopening plans and the state is only in the second stage, but she refused to say if the casinos were making a mistake.