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On March 17, health officers in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties imposed a shelter-in-place order — an unprecedented bid to keep the deadly coronavirus from spreading, overwhelming hospitals and potentially killing thousands of people.

Stay-at-home directives remain in place, but restrictions have eased throughout the Bay Area. Most counties in the region have entered California’s early “stage 2” reopening phase, which allows retail businesses to offer curbside pickup and industries supporting them to operate. County health officials say they will monitor how that goes before reopening more.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling the shots on how quickly counties can loosen the shelter-in-place restrictions that have slowed the deadly coronavirus but crippled the nation’s largest economy.

Earlier this month, Newsom established a set of benchmarks that only one county in the greater Bay Area — Santa Cruz — could meet to unlock the door to more retail shops, restaurants and manufacturers. But this week, he revised the metrics, paving the way for most California counties — including most in the Bay Area — to soon hang up a “welcome” sign.

Replacing the most difficult requirement with a lower bar for new cases appears to allow most Bay Area counties to meet the state’s revised threshold, which could allow them to progress toward further reopening with things such as in-store shopping and restaurants with table service, a Bay Area News Group analysis found.

Learn more in this report from staff reporters John Woolfolk and Harriet Blair Brown.

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Author: Anda Chu