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Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 5/26/20, PM


Hair Salons Reopening / Church Service Guidelines / Spare The Air Days Resurging

Hair Salons Reopening

Governor Gavin Newsom says in counties that have been cleared to move faster on lifting coronavirus restrictions, barbershops and hair salons can reopen immediately.

“Those kinds of operations with meaningful modifications with the appropriate protective gear, particularly face coverings, that are so essential in that environment, sanitation requirements, and the like.”

The governor's announcement, today, is part of an ongoing relaxation of orders intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The state's guidance says customers and workers in barbershops and salons must wear face coverings during hair-cutting and other close-contact services. Forty-seven of California's 58 counties have been granted variances to state orders that allow them to move faster on reopening. Los Angeles County and San Francisco Bay Area counties are not among them.

Church Service Guidelines

Yesterday, Governor Newsom announced new guidelines for places of worship that reopen around the state. KALW’s Precious Green reports.

Over the holiday weekend, there was a back and forth about whether or not places of worship can reopen right now. Governor Newsom has said they should stay closed for safety reasons. But on Friday, President Trump announced that churches should be considered essential businesses and allowed to reopen. And later that same day, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Newsom’s ban on in-person church services finding that the action did not restrict people’s right to practice their religion.

But then, on Monday, Newsom released guidelines for how places of worship can reopen around the state.

Under the guidelines, church buildings could only be filled to a quarter of their capacity or a hundred people total. They’d have to adhere to a long list of safety measures. And high-risk activities like singing should be banned.

Newsom’s guidelines do not require churches to reopen. And in fact, several African-American ministers and civil rights leaders held a demonstration Monday urging the religious community to continue to stay home. 

Spare The Air Days Resurging

Today, air district officials in the Bay Area have issued a Spare The Air Alert for the second day in a row. These alerts are issued on days when pollution is expected to reach unhealthy levels.

The Spare the Air season normally begins on May 4. But the district said at that time, so few people were driving, because of shelter-in-place that the air quality was actually really good. Now as stay-at-home orders relax. More people are driving. 

So Monday, the district issued its first alert of the year. It’s almost like things are getting back to normal. 

Officials say that traffic is the Bay Area’s top contributor to air pollution. And the weather isn’t helping either. Low wind and a record-breaking four-day heatwave will keep pollutants hanging around longer. Residents are advised to consider alternatives to driving to keep smog levels low. And to avoid outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, when air pollution levels and temperatures are at their highest. 

Climate Change Lawsuit In States Hands

A U.S. appeals court has ruled against major oil companies in lawsuits brought by California cities and counties seeking damages for climate change. A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the lawsuits belong in state courts. Chevron and other major oil companies had sought to move the cases to federal courts, where one judge had tossed out the claims. Environmentalists cheered the ruling as a victory for San Francisco, Oakland, and several other jurisdictions that claim the companies should pay for sea walls and other improvements to protect against the effects of climate change.