Modoc County opens bars and churches against state order

With zero coronavirus cases, officials in Modoc County have decided to violate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter at home order and allow many businesses to reopen on Friday.

The remote county has fewer than 9,000 residents. Modoc County is one of four rural California counties that has had zero coronavirus cases.

Churches, schools and businesses can reopen, but are required to practice social distancing. People 65 and older with underlying health problems are still required to stay home aside from essential activities.

“The health and safety of Modoc County residents is and continues to be our number one priority,” the county said in a statement. “This reopening plan was made in the best interest of residents’ physical, mental and economic health.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday tweeted his four stage reopening plan, with “sector-by-sector guidelines for a safe reopening.” He said the state was just weeks away from permitting low-risk workplaces and some public spaces to reopen.

While Newsom wants a one size fits all reopening plan, officials from multiple rural counties with low-numbers or zero coronavirus cases want to be able to open earlier than densely populated cities.

“Why put ourselves in that position when we are just a week or two away from significant modifications of our stay-at-home, where we can begin a phase 2, beginning to reopen sectors of our economy that are low risk?” Newsom said on Wednesday.

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