Newsom says it's best to stay close to home as some California counties open

The state has approved reopening plans for 18 counties as of Wednesday, including Mariposa County.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Wednesday it will "defeat the point" of letting some counties reopen more quickly than the state if they start attracting visitors from other areas with more restrictive measures still in place.

"This is the big challenge: You open up in a dense, urban environment right next door to a community that's not open, people start rushing into that dense urban environment and coming back into their community," he said. "That's why we want a regional focus."

The state has approved reopening plans for 18 counties as of Wednesday. They may move ahead more quickly than the state in reopening businesses during the second of Newsom's four-stage plan for rolling back the stay-at-home order he imposed on March 19.

RELATED: Mariposa County given approval to move further into phase 2 of re-opening

The list included Mariposa County, which is the only Central California county to have met the state's requirements.

Counties that meet the standards can do things such as allow customers in stores and diners in restaurants. Churches, hair and nail salons, gyms and concert venues must remain closed for now.

Many businesses in Mariposa County are looking forward to welcoming customers back into their buildings for the first time in several weeks.

In Southern California, four of the state's five most populated counties - San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino - want to move more quickly than the state but can't meet all the requirements, most notably the zero deaths mandate. They sent a letter to Newsom asking for a meeting to discuss their situations.

Under Newsom's reopening plan, the state controls when counties move faster than the state while counties are able to control if they want to go more slowly. That is what has happened with the six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, which imposed their stay-at-home orders three days before Newsom and have been slower to relax it.

RELATED: 18 counties in California given green light to reopen schools, restaurants and malls

Los Angeles County, home to a quarter of California's nearly 40 million residents but more than half the state's more than 2,900 virus deaths, also is moving more cautiously. It reopened its beaches Wednesday, even as officials said their stay-at-home order will be in place for months.

It was no usual day at the beach. They are open only for "active recreation" such as walking, swimming and surfing. Sunbathing, picnicking, volleyball and other group sports are still banned. People who don't know each other must stay well apart, and everyone is supposed to wear masks when they're out of the water.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom details rules for businesses opening in California

The state's patchwork of rules are reflective of its size and the reality the virus has not spread uniformly.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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