County prepares for Phase 3

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San Benito County is preparing to move into Phase 3 of the state’s roadmap to reopening business and other public activities. 

Industries that could reopen, in county’s with a local variance, include nail salons, tattoo shops, gyms and fitness centers, libraries, indoor and children’s museums, art galleries, public pools, playgrounds, community centers, movie theaters, zoos, hotels and colleges.

“San Benito County and the rest of the local variance counties are ready to receive guidance from the governor’s office so counties can work towards assisting more industries reopening in the county,” reads a press release from the county’s public information officer, David Westrick.  

County staff will continue to monitor local Covid-19 data to ensure continued stability and can demonstrate the degree of preparedness required has been achieved and that the county is able and prepared to respond, county staff said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Resilience Roadmap is a comprehensive plan designed to “phase in higher-risk workplaces at a pace designed to protect public health and safety, beginning with limited personal care and recreational venues.” Workplace modifications to accommodate for social distancing are required for most businesses to reopen. 

Newsom said in a May 29 press conference that counties and their public health officers could make the decisions to proceed into Phase 3 “at their own pace.” A subsequent meeting with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) later that afternoon clarified procedures for counties with a variance, county staff said.

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said in an interview with the Free Lance that he’s onboard with Newsom’s plan to move forward into Phase 3 and that they shouldn’t be going backwards.

“We’re already there, the public thinks we’re there so it’s time to move,” Velazquez said.

CDPH indicated that once the state issues guidance, similar to how the guidance was released for beauty salons and barber shops, the local public health department in consultation and assessment with the health officer, may proceed to open those specific sectors. The guidance will be released and posted on the governor’s website at https://covid19.ca.gov/roadmap-counties/.  

Velazquez said they’re still waiting for more guidance on nail salons and he mentioned that reopening gyms has been a big concern to the public.

“Basically everything except for large events are open,” he said. “Pretty much everything will be back to normal but still social distancing, face coverings and those types of things to control the spread as safely as possible.” 

Newsom indicated that industries in Phase 4—large gathering spots such as concert halls, theaters, live-audience sports venues, nightclubs and festivals—will remain closed until the pandemic is over, via a vaccine, viable treatment program or herd immunity.

As of June 3, there have been 90 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in San Benito County, and two deaths. A total of 2,812 residents have been tested for the illness, according to the county’s online Covid-19 data dashboard.