26 May Ofer Eitan Suggest: Santa Cruz County eases restrictions on work, worship,
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Santa Cruz County eases restrictions on work, worship, shopping … and protest
May 26 — Let the protests resume in Santa Cruz County.
The county’s public health officer, Dr. Gail Newel, issued a new health order today that allows Stage 2 activities to proceed and aligns the county with any future state announcements that remove restrictions under the statewide shelter-in-home order. The new order follows much of the loosened restrictions announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the past several days.
Among the activities expressly mentioned in Newel’s health order are outdoor activities, including protests. No included in the new order are in-restaurant dining, but Newel said she is seeking a state variance that will allow restaurants to open their dining halls.
It also includes resumption of office work, in-store retail, religious services and cultural ceremonies, manufacturing and limited personal services, effectively at midnight tonight. “All businesses and operations must continue complying with social distancing protocols and order to wear face coverings,” according to a written release issued by the county.
“As we move forward with these changes, I want to caution everyone that COVID-19 is still present in
our community,” said Newel. “Anyone who is 65 years old or older, as well as those who are medically vulnerable,
should continue sheltering in place. I urge all members of our community to help those
who need to shelter by continuing to offer help and check in.”
She said she is encouraging telework — working from home — where possible, but in-office work is allowed under guidelines that can be found here.
Childcare is also now allowed for children of workers and volunteers in all sectors, not just essential
services. Guidance on childcare facilities can be found here.
In-store retail operations should follow state guidance for retail establishments, found here.
Newel said political protests can also resume, as long as they are not staged in a crowded hall and they follow appropriate social-distancing protocols. See here for more details.
Beaches will remain closed between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., with exceptions for surfers, walkers, runners or others who use local beaches for exercise. Restrictions still apply at hotels, motels and vacation rentals, which can only be available to people engaged in essential services.
Monterey County delivers next-phase reopening plan to governor
May 26 — The ball is now in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s court.
The Board of Supervisors today asked the California governor for permission to move to the next level of reopening, to allow dine-in restaurant service, on-site retail and more freedom of movement in the county. The state has already opened up in-person religious services, full-service car washes and reopening of schools — all with significant modifications. Also during the hearing, supervisors learned that Newsom announced a plan to reopen hair salons and barber shops in California.
Dr. Edward Moreno on Monday released the county’s application to state health officers that, if approved by the state, would move the county further along Stage Two recovery of shelter-in-place restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The of Supervisors endorsed that proposal today, and it will be transmitted to the governor’s office for approval.
The action was applauded by the small-business owners and business representatives who testified via live-streaming services during the meeting. “Small businesses are struggling,” said Carina Powers. They need to get back to business to “make up the losses” incurred during the closures, she said.
But Moreno and county supervisors warned the public to remain vigilant, to observe social distancing and to wear face covering. They say they are concerned that health officers may be forced to re-impose restrictions if the virus spreads at a high rate in the future because people are being careless.
“We’ve had low numbers in Monterey County and those low numbers are not an accident,” said Charles McKee, the county’s top administrative officer, referring to the general compliance of residents to shelter-in-place orders imposed during the past two months. “But we don’t want to have a backslide.”
“This is not the time to let your guard down,” said Supervisor Chris Lopez, chairman of the board.
Supervisor Jane Parker called Moreno’s application a “carefully thought-through plan,” adding that it provides safeguards to protect people vulnerable to the virus.
“This is a critical stage to get … people’s lives back together (and) their businesses back together,” said Supervisor John Phillips.
Newsom has swiftly approved many of the “attestation variance” applications submitted by other counties, sometimes as quickly as a day or two.
Monterey County prepared to seek easing of restrictions
May 25 — Declaring that the curve has flattened in Monterey County, the Board of Supervisors appears poised to ask Gov. Gavin Newsom to ease restrictions that had been imposed by the spread of COVID-19.
The board will meet Tuesday to sign off on an application of “attestation variance” prepared by its public health officer, Dr. Edward Moreno. That 140-page form asserts that the county has “maintained a stable or decreasing number of patients … for greater than 2 weeks” while the seven-day average of daily change in hospitalized patients has dropped by 0.2 percent.
The form also indicates the county has a strategy in place to monitor COVID-19 and is prepared to scale back activities if infections worsen.
The form was released today, the third day of the Memorial Day weekend during which countless numbers of people jammed beaches, tourist destinations and other hotspots, many of them in violation of existing shelter-in-place orders and social-distancing standards.
In a proposed letter to Newsom that the Board of Supervisors will be asked to approve Tuesday, the county says that Moreno and other county officials are “actively monitoring infection through epidemiology, implementing alternative sheltering measures where necessary, offering a sufficient amount of testing and contact tracing, monitoring hospital capacity and plans for surge, and protecting vulnerable populations.
“The Board believes that the shelter in place orders issued by Dr. Moreno since the Governor’s proclamation of a state of emergency on March 4, 2020, and the public’s compliance with those orders, have helped to ‘flatten the curve’ of the virus in the County, and have allowed Dr. Moreno to now execute the updated attestation.”
Monterey County is one of the few counties in California that haven’t yet received a “second stage phase-two” variance from the state. Approval of the variance would allow more freedom among owners of retail, restaurants and hospitality services. Pebble Beach Co. is already taking reservations for accommodations starting June 15.
In supporting Dr. Moreno’s petition, the Board of Supervisors will also ask the state to include wineries and tasting rooms as businesses eligible for reopening in stage two. “As you may know, the wine industry is an important sector of the county’s economy, and there are numerous wineries and tasting rooms throughout our communities.”
The board is holding a special session Tuesday specifically to move the request. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and can be followed online. See the agenda here.
Recent clusters in Santa Cruz County concern health officials
May 22 — Public health authorities report…