In May, with a low number of cases remaining constant, Mr. Newsom was under increasing pressure to reopen. Harmeet K. Dhillon, a civil rights attorney and member of the Republican National Committee, filed more than a dozen lawsuits related to the reopening. If residents could gather in Costco, they should be able to go to church, he said. Tesla’s chief Elon Musk said his Bay Area car factory was forced to shut down and threatened to move the company’s headquarters out of California.
Mr. Newsom has located the reopening process, allowing counties to move at different speeds, repeatedly declaring that “localism is crucial”
Reopening advocates like Ms. Dhillon felt confirmed.
“I believe that our lawsuits have been responsible for opening up large sections of the Californian economy much earlier than initially expected by the governor,” he added, adding that he fielded countless phone calls from entrepreneurs. “People are absolutely devastated.”
But Mr. Newsom has also been criticized by those who feared that the state was reopening too quickly.
Dr. Sara Cody, chief of health from Santa Clara County and architect of residence orders in the Bay Area, said the system is disconcerting for residents who regularly cross county lines.
“It’s incredibly confusing to the public,” said Dr. Cody in an interview. “What’s the message? How can it be that something is OK here and in the adjacent county isn’t it?”
The measures have become even more disparate in recent weeks. In Napa and Sonoma counties, wine tastings and restaurant meals are allowed both inside and outside. In San Francisco, restaurant dining is only available outdoors. San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced last week that the city would postpone the reopening, scheduled for Monday, of hairdressers and beauty salons, massage shops, museums, tattoo parlors and outdoor bars.
Diana Dooley, a former secretary of state for health and human services who addressed the Ebola and Zika pandemics during her tenure, said she saw “with great empathy” as the crisis gripped California. Initially, he said, “it looked like the Bay Area was driving the decisions.” And as the virus spread, Californians were generally compliant.