Modoc County — the third-least populated county in Northern California — is defying Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders and reopening its economy.
The county announced its intent to open all restaurants, bars, and churches on Friday. Heather Hadwick — the deputy director of Modoc County’s Office of Emergency Services — released a statement explaining the announcement.
Despite the reopening being against the governor’s orders, Hadwick insists its not the county’s intent to defy Newsom.
“We’re not in this at all to defy anything. We align with the plans. We’re just at a different phase in this because of where we are and how we live,” Hadwick told Politico.
The announcement comes after Modoc County officials submitted their proposed outline to the governor last week.
Although Modoc County has a population of less than 10,000 which would likely make it easier for residents to practice social distancing, Newsom has not indicated whether or not he would be open to lifting stay-at-home orders in individual counties.
However, that has not halted the small county’s reopening. The strategic plan, which goes into effect on Friday, includes social distancing guidelines for churches and all non-essential businesses — including restaurants, bars, and retail stores — all of which are prohibited under Newsom’s current stay-at-home order.
The latest news about Modoc County follows Newsom’s announcement to extend the state’s stay-at-home order until May 15.
Newsom is set to close the state’s beaches and parks, effective on Friday. Reports note that more than 90,000 California residents flocked to Newport Beach in Orange County last weekend despite the governor’s stay-at-home orders.
Newsom described the closure as a “temporary pause.”
“We just want to focus on where there’s a problem … in a smart, strategic way,” Newsom said. “We don’t want to be heavy-handed about these things.”