Childcare, outdoor museums among services allowed to resume, county officials discuss opening of dine-in restaurants
Yolo County is allowing several previously restricted activities to resume with social distancing measures after California adjusted its shelter-in-place order. The state has also allowed for more individual variation between counties in reopening businesses and other activities, prompting a discussion by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors for when the county will be ready to reopen.
In a Yolo County press release, city officials described the services that can continue as the state transitions into phase two of a four-phase plan for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Effective immediately Yolo County has amended the current Shelter-in-Place order to now allow childcare for non-essential workers, select services, and outdoor museums and open gallery spaces to re-open while non-essential office-based businesses must remain closed,” the statement said.
The “select services” mentioned in the amendment include services that require limited person-to-person contact, like car washes, pet grooming and residential cleaning. The press release explains why office-based businesses were not included in the list.
“While the State Order is in effect, counties are permitted to be more restrictive than the state regarding the re-opening of activities,” the statement said. “The State’s Order now allows for office-based business to re-open, while strongly encouraging continued teleworking. The County will delay reopening non-essential offices until next week in order to develop localized guidance.”
Though the county is not immediately reopening all of the services allowed by the state, officials received approval from the State of California for Yolo County to progress more quickly through phase two of the Resilience Roadmap. The services that would be open later in stage two include dine-in restaurants, schools with some modifications and in-store retail shopping, according to the Yolo County Roadmap to Recovery.
Yolo County’s Health Officer Ron Chapman recommended that the county progress toward these late-stage two reopenings with the appropriate safety measures at a Board of Supervisors meeting on May 19. According to Chapman, in his personal experience, businesses and residents are coming together to protect the community.
“I’ve been really impressed,” Chapman said. “These businesses have a steady flow of customers, all of whom are wearing face coverings [and] following safe distance practices. These businesses and their customers have created a new normal. Our coronavirus dashboard shows this new normal to be successful.”
In another presentation to the Board of Supervisors the following week, Chapman discussed the county’s testing capacities in relation to businesses reopening.
“Our testing capacity is exceptional at this point and far exceeding public and clinical demand,” Chapman said. “Our positive test rate remains very low. Our number of cases and hospitalizations combined with our outstanding level of preparedness makes our county ready to expand the opening of businesses in a safe manner following state and local public health guidance.”
During the same meeting, Yolo County Director of Environmental Health April Meneghetti discussed how the Environmental Health Department approves the reopening of dine-in restaurants but encouraged the county to provide more specific guidance on requiring employees to wear face coverings and that employees who are sick should stay at home.
Meneghetti discussed the various situations that the county is experiencing now — situations that may require additional guidance if restaurants are open for dine-in. She said restaurants have only seen a few customers who refuse to wear a facemask, but that in those instances, the restaurants are not responsible for the customer’s actions.
“If somebody’s refusing to wear a face-covering, for example, we’re not going to cite the restaurant for that,” Meneghetti said. “They’re going to need to work through that, and if things become extremely difficult our recommendation would be to call law enforcement at that point.”
The Board of Supervisors expressed concerns about how to protect employees of essential businesses as restaurants open back up. Supervisor Don Saylor discussed the ways essential workers can protect themselves and report unsafe practices.
“As we open these businesses, we may be transferring risks from the community to these people who work in the kitchens and in serving, and they sometimes can’t avoid them,” Saylor said. “I’m interested in us delving into the use of sick leave, and the use of paid sick leave. If you’re working in a restaurant and you see an unsafe practice, how do you deal with that?”
Written by: Madeleine Payne — firstname.lastname@example.org