COVID pandemic: Gov. Newsom says new rules for reopening California's houses of worship are being finalized

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a few days off from briefing the press, Gov. Gavin Newsom returned to the podium Friday for an afternoon update on the coronavirus in California.

Speaking at a veterans home in the Napa Valley town of Yountville, Newsom said guidelines were on the way for churches, mosques and synagogues to resume modified in-person services. He said those guidelines would be released by Monday, if not earlier.

His comments come just hours after President Donald Trump deemed churches and other houses of worship "essential" and called on governors across the country to allow them to reopen immediately. He said if governors don't abide by his request, he will "override" them, though it's unclear what authority he has to do so.

Earlier this week, the governor announced professional sports, hair salons may also be able to resume as early as the first week of June.

"If we hold the rate of transmissions... we'll be making announcements statewide, not just with the regional variances, that would allow for retail not just to be pick-up, but in-store retail to be loosened up," he said.

On Friday Newsom added casinos and card rooms would also be able to reopen in June if current trends hold.

Trump demands churches be allowed to reopen, threatens to 'override' governors
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In a press conference Friday, President Donald Trump asked governors to reopen houses of worship this weekend.


The governor said more counties across the state have qualified to open more businesses. So far, 43 of California's 58 counties are in Phase 2.5, and he expected more to move forward in the next few days.

On Friday, Newsom added casinos and card rooms would also be able to reopen in June if current trends hold.

He said that more responsibility is being placed onto the counties as the state continues to move into further stages of reopening. That includes being able to handle surges in cases that could occur.

California received more than 86 million surgical masks, and Newsom said those masks will be distributed to businesses as they begin to reopen -- including hair salons.

Newsom said the state is also prepared to deploy PPE to counties that see outbreaks as they open.

He added that counties must be willing to retract their openings if they see outbreaks.

California's curve has seen a steady decline, and hospitalizations and ICU admissions have decreased over the last 14 days, but Newsom warned there could be a resurgence, as there was during the 1918 flu pandemic.

The governor didn't give a clear answer when asked about whether the state would take action against counties, like the Central Valley's Tulare County, which say they are moving further ahead in opening than allowed in the governor's stage plan.

"Breaks my heart, should break your heart," Newsom said.

The governor said he understood the frustration among businesses to open, but he hoped the counties, like Tulare County, would embrace "the spirit of collaboration" moving forward.

Ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, Newsom said he hoped people would stay close to home for the holiday as California continues to make progress in opening.

ABC7's Alix Martichoux, ABC30 and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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