By Sharon Bernstein | Reuters
California broadly relaxed its coronavirus-related shutdowns on Friday, moving to allow professional sports to be played without audiences, and reopen day camps, gyms, museums and zoos as soon as June 12.
The most populous U.S. state will also allow film, television and music production to restart, a key sector of the economy that provides thousands of jobs.
The novel coronavirus has infected 1.9 million Americans and killed more than 108,000 since the first case of COVID-19, the disease it causes, was diagnosed in January.
States in recent weeks have moved to ease public health restrictions limiting business and social activity.
But allowing people more contact as businesses reopen raises the risk that cases could start to spike again. Days of protests over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, have also thrown thousands of Americans together in close groups.
In California, the new rules allow athletes and staff to participate in sports but say they should adhere to health guidelines agreed upon by their unions. Local health directors in the counties where stadiums and teams are located may shut down play again if case numbers begin to rise.
Day camps for children may open for summer, but the state recommends that children are organized into small groups that do not mix with other groups, and that individuals remain six feet apart.
Museums, zoos, campgrounds and gyms may open June 12 if their county has shown that cases of COVID-19 have stabilized or dropped. Most counties in the state meet the criteria, with the notable exception of the San Francisco Bay Area, state data show.
Still not allowed in California are nail salons, tattoo parlors, movie theaters, nightclubs, concert venues, theme parks or higher education, the state’s website showed.
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