California "Days, Not Weeks" From Loosening Restrictions

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expressing his greatest optimism yet the state is close to relaxing its shelter-in-place rules, insisting he is not giving in to pressure from lawsuits and protesters.

There was grim news Friday as the state has officially topped 50,000 cases of COVID-19 now and 2,000 deaths. There are some encouraging signs and a continued flattening of the curve, with fewer people hospitalized and in the ICU.

It means, Gov. Newsom said for the first time, that he could modify the shelter-in-place restrictions in a significant way, sometime next week.

"We’re getting very close to making really meaningful augmentations to that stay-at-home order," Gov. Newsom said. "We are, always said, weeks not months about four or five days ago, I want to say many days, not weeks as long as we continue to be prudent and thoughtful in certain modifications, we will be making, I think, some announcements."

Gov. Newsom said if people behave themselves and don’t crowd beaches this weekend, those announcements could come as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

"We can screw all that up, we can set all that back, by making bad decisions," Gov. Newsom said. "All of that works because people have done an incredible job in their physical distancing. But (if) we change that and we see the images we saw last weekend in concentration of thousands of people, we can start to see a spread again."

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA - APRIL 30: People gather at the beach on April 30, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California.
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Gov. Newsom welcomed the political expression of protesters, saying it’s "wonderful" they’re doing so, but urged them to demonstrate at a safe distance, while wearing masks, which did not seem to be the case outside the State Capitol. The governor also denied the claims of protesters and those suing him, that he’s a tyrant and a fascist, telling KCBS Radio he is driven only by data, the law and doing what seems most prudent.

"We’re not ideological, we’re open to argument," Gov. Newsom said. "We’re interested in evidence and the evidence is bearing out that we’re seeing some good things, but still some yellow flags of caution."

Those flags could turn back into red flags if Californians drop their guard and stop social distancing.