A bipartisan coalition of elected officials in San Luis Obispo County sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday, April 20, requesting permission to implement a phased reopening of the local economy.
The letter asks for a science-based reopening over the course of three weeks, with direction from local public health officials.
“Within a matter of days, the county will have fully developed and be ready to implement the SLO County Roadmap for Reopening, which is aligned with both state and federal guidelines,” the letter read. “Our plan has been developed by local experts and takes into consideration the circumstances and facts in our region.”
The coalition wrote that that the county has been successful in managing the spread of the virus and the prolonged closure of local businesses could lead to further issues in the community.
“We’ve asked a great deal of county residents in the past month, and they have risen to the challenge,” the letter read. “We’ve asked businesses to risk permanent closure, and to layoff beloved employees. Workers have been laid off without much in the bank to get by.”
In a press conference Monday, April 20, Gov. Newsom addressed the request to begin reopening procedures.
“We are one state and the impact and the collective responsibility we have to one another, neighboring counties, neighboring cities, must be considered,” Newsom said. “We have a process to adjudicate those [letters] and to begin to dialogue with our team and their local health teams to make sure it’s a health based decision, not any other type of decision making.”
Emergency Services Director Wade Horton said at a press conference Monday, April 20 that the county is equipped to begin reopening.
“SLO county has done an outstanding job and we’re ready to take the reins,” Horton said. “We’re ready to move forward. I think the timeliness of this letter is very appropriate.”
While the county did not disclose details of what a phased reopening would look like, Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said that many safety measures will remain in place for now as more solutions are developed over the next few months.
“It’s an extremely important point to make sure that we don’t flip the switch,” Borenstein said. “It’ll be over a period of months and it will come with ongoing surveillance.”
The San Luis Obispo County shelter-in-place order is up for review every 14 days, although the statewide order does not yet have an end-date. The county extended the shelter-in-place order April 17 for another 30 days.
As of Monday, April 20, county officials have identified several new business sectors that can operate under the county and state orders. These include non-urgent surgery and outpatient practice, construction, dog grooming and recreational fishing. Businesses must follow physical distancing, face covering and protective personal equipment (PPE) guidelines, according to County Public Health.