Thursday, May 14, 2020

State Approves County's Bid for Local Control Over COVID-19 Restrictions

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2020 at 3:20 PM

The state of California has approved Humboldt County's certification that it is ready to exercise some local control over the easing of stage two shelter-in-place restrictions, and the county is giving the green light to some local businesses to reopen on a limited basis once their health and safety operational plans are approved.

click to enlarge The county-issued signs to appear in the windows of shelter-in-place compliant establishments. - COUNTY OF HUMBOLDT
  • County of Humboldt
  • The county-issued signs to appear in the windows of shelter-in-place compliant establishments.
Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich submitted a 27-page document to the state Tuesday, along with a letter of support from the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, attesting that the county meets a host of criteria laid out by the state and should be allowed to begin exercising local control over stage two of easing the state's shelter in place order. In a press release today, the county announced that the state has approved that document and the county intends to allow retail shops currently offering curbside services to re-open, but only after their plans to operate safely are approved by the county.

In the release, Frankovich noted that the county will move slowly through this process, given the recent spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases in recent days, which have seen 12 new cases since Saturday.

“We have to acknowledge that two weeks ago our case numbers looked different than they do today," she said. "Although clearly many, but not all, of our recent cases have been related to the same case cluster, we have to move forward more gradually than we had originally planned. Today, under the expanded Stage Two, our first step will be to allow those businesses currently open for curbside pickup or delivery to begin serving customers indoors once they have approved plans for in-store service in place. Some lower risk outdoor retail businesses with approved plans may also open.”

The county has not yet allowed other businesses grouped into stage two — including dine-in restaurants, shopping malls and others — to re-open but is encouraging them to prepare and submit safety plans so they are ready to re-open seamlessly when the time comes.

See the county's full press release copied below:



May 14, 2020 - Humboldt County Moving Forward with Expanded Reopening Plans Following State Approval
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 7pm ; Saturday 10am to 5pm
Humboldt County today was approved by the state to reopen certain business sectors as fast as conditions allow after meeting criteria outlined in California’s roadmap to reopening. Since the county’s online tool was launched on Wednesday, more than 150 local business Reopening Plans have been submitted, some of which have already been approved.

Approval of the county’s Attestation of Readiness packet shifts the decision-making about reopening expanded Stage Two business sectors from the state to the county. This does not affect reopening timing for those sectors listed in Stages Three and Four.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said it’s important that Humboldt County is able to tailor its progression through Stage Two based on local needs, but the recent increase in cases requires a cautious approach. “We have to acknowledge that two weeks ago our case numbers looked different than they do today. Although clearly many, but not all, of our recent cases have been related to the same case cluster, we have to move forward more gradually than we had originally planned,” she said.

“Today, under the expanded Stage Two, our first step will be to allow those businesses currently open for curbside pickup or delivery to begin serving customers indoors once they have approved plans for in-store service in place,” Frankovich said. “Some lower risk outdoor retail businesses with approved plans may also open.”

Frankovich added that the county is monitoring case numbers closely and said, “We will move forward balancing health and safety with the clear need for social and economic recovery within our county.”

All businesses, including those currently open to the public, must submit a Business Reopening plan through the county’s online certification portal. Although plans will be reviewed as they are received, not every type of business will be able to open at the same time.

Under the new guidance provided by the Governor’s office, Early Stage Two entities will be given priority followed by Expanded Stage Two businesses. Those include:

Early Stage Two:

Curbside retail
Manufacturers
Logistics
Childcare for those outside of the essential workforce
Office-based businesses (telework is strongly encouraged)
Select services: car washes, pet grooming and landscaping.
Retail businesses currently operating with curbside or delivery may open to indoor service upon approval of their plan.

Businesses below may apply now but cannot open until the Health Officer approves Expanded Stage Two:

Destination retail such as shopping malls and swap meets
Dine-in restaurants
Schools with modifications.
The following businesses are not permitted to open in Stage Two:

Bars and gaming areas
Personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios
Entertainment venues such as movie theaters, gaming, gambling, arcade venues and pro sports
Indoor museums, kids museum, gallery spaces, zoos and libraries
Community centers, including public pools, playgrounds and picnic areas
Limited capacity religious services and cultural ceremonies
Nightclubs
Concert venues
Live audience sports
Festivals
Theme parks
Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism (non-essential travel)
Higher education.
Outdoor recreation and adventure businesses such as kayak and boat rentals and charter fishing may apply under the retail sector as no sector-specific guidance has been provided by the state. Non-profit businesses should apply for the sector that best fits the service provided. Again, not all sectors are approved for Stage Two, so some businesses and nonprofits must apply after additional guidance has been provided by the state.

The county’s Attestation Packet has been posted on the California Department of Public Health’s website here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Local-Variance-Attestations.aspx

Businesses can access the county’s online portal here: https://humboldtgov.org/2756/Business-Compliance. Contact the COVID Business Information Line at 707-268-2527 for assistance completing the form and other business resources.

For general information about COVID-19, please contact the Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000 or covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us.
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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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