Nearly 1/3 of California given go-ahead to open dine-in restaurants, malls

 (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)

A total of 18 counties, or about 30 percent of the entire state of California, have now been given the go-ahead to reopen dine-in restaurants, malls and some offices with the proper precautions, according to the state's website.

That's five more counties than the day before and on Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was in talks with about 30 other counties, all clamoring to enter what is now known as Stage 2.

The counties are: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Nevada, Mariposa, Placer, Plumas, San Benito, Shasta, Sierra, Tehama, Tuolomne, Yuba and Sutter counties. 

All of the counties are relatively small and remote. And they all had to sign and certify "attestations" that they have met the state criteria to enter Stage 2.

Practically, it means that counties can't have any more than 1 COVID-19 case per 10,000 and zero deaths in 14 days prior to the submission date. Hospitals have to have the appropriate protective gear and enough capacity to accept coronavirus patients, and counties have to provide a testing volume of 1.5 to 1,000 residents.

Big counties, including all those in the Bay Area, San Diego and Los Angeles still haven't met the strict requirements to reopen.

San Francisco and San Mateo County, however, will allow most retail businesses to reopen for curbside sales Monday, if they don't see a huge spike in COVID-19 diagnoses and hospitalizations over the next few days. But leaders in these areas have still not wanted to open restaurants or malls just yet. 

Los Angeles leaders have said they don't see lifting the stay-at-home orders there until July. 

What this means for the counties that have gotten the green light is that they can offer curbside retail, manufacturing associated with that, childcare for those who are non-essential, office-based businesses, car washes, pet grooming and outdoor malls and museums. Stage 2 also means that these counties can offer curbside retail, dine-in restaurants and even school, with modifications. 

Many of these modifications include complying with a long list of rules, like taking temperature checks of employees and customers, like other countries are already doing.

Earlier this week, El Dorado County, east of Sacramento, was more than ready to move ahead, county spokeswoman Carla Hass said. 

“The dining restaurants are the sector that people are most excited about and that owners are most prepared to reopen. I think we’ll see a lot of restaurants open today and in coming days,” she said.

Despite the governor's OK, not every business, even if they pass the criteira, can immediately jump back into the economy.

California Business Properties Association President and CEO Rex Hime said companies have much work to do to ensure worker safety in offices and prevent a surge of new infections.

“I don’t see a huge stampede of people rushing back to their offices. I think that will happen over time,” Hime said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported in Oakland, Calif. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at in new tab) or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez