California Gives San Diego County Leeway To Move Further Into Reopening, Including Restaurants For Dine-In, Retail & Salons As Early As This Week

May 18, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced a change to his previously issued county variance requirements that could allow San Diego County to move forward in easing more restrictions, including reopening restaurant and retail as early as this week. San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote on a plan to submit to the state tomorrow to run a pilot program that will allow us to lead the rest of the state in reopening.

Today was an optimistic day for San Diego businesses. It began with Mayor Faulconer appearing with Phil Pace, owner of popular local barbecue chain, Phil's BBQ. The two demonstrated how area eateries were preparing to safely reopen with increased cleaning procedures in place as well as reduced seating and social distancing measures to ensure the safety of employees and guests alike.

Governor Newsom then announced that he would ease restrictions to allow the state's municipalities to apply for variances with more relaxed restrictions than what is imposed in California's stay-at-home order. While counties like Los Angeles must continue stricter precautions, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors indicated that our county would qualify and we would be submitting a plan for a variance to be voted on at a meeting on Tuesday, May 19. The plan could go into effect as early as this week, which means dining and retail may be allowed to reopen by week's end.

Mayor Faulconer sent Gov. Newsom this letter today.
At Mayor Faulconer's meeting this afternoon, he stated that he would ask Governor Newsom to allow San Diego to operate a pilot program to be an example for the rest of the state to reopen businesses. Faulconer was optimistic that San Diego could safely and successfully reopen most restaurants for dine-in, retail businesses for in-store shopping, and even go further to enter into Stage 3 reopening like hair and nail salons. It was also released today that San Diego neighborhoods like Little Italy are considering closing certain streets to offer area eateries increased outdoor seating for safe dining. California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control's new Temporary Catering Authorization will permit approved restaurants and bars to create an expanded outdoor area for patrons to consume food and alcohol. After a strict application process, a permitted restaurant would be able to expand operations to parking lots, sidewalks, public thoroughfares, and other outdoor areas close to the business.

"The details of the accelerated plan will be presented at the board tomorrow," said San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "Basically, it includes the expansion of the stage 2 that the governor had laid out, and the pilot that we are talking about really it inches in to stage 3. So we're stretching it, it is a very aggressive plan, not just the accelerated plan that we will have before us but also the pilot. So I urge you all to tune into the board meeting for all of the details. What I have been told, if we get the green light, the accelerated plan could open as soon as 24 hours later, which could mean Wednesday. And if we get approval on the rest, we could be talking by the end of this week."

Newsom stated that 53 of 58 counties in California could qualify to move further into Phase 2 easing, which would include opening restaurants for dine-in with restrictions based on what was submitted by the California Restaurant Association two weeks ago. Most retail will also be able to open for in-store shopping. Newsom also indicated that in the first week of June, if COVID-19 trends continued to decrease, certain statewide mandates would be lifted to allow for in-store retail shopping, hair cuts, and even pro sports without fans.

Factors for local municipalities to advance beyond statewide precautions include data indicating hospitalizations are no greater than 5% increase over last 7 days by average, no more than 20 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in last 14 days, no more than 25 individuals diagnosed per 100k residents in county over past 14 days, and/or test positivity rates of less than 8% per 100k people. Counties must also attest to a number of things including a testing capacity of at least 1.5 test per 1000 people per day OR 15 individuals doing contact tracing per 1000 people, and counties must work closer with skilled nursing facilities with weekly communications,  elevating best practices, and having strategies to address challenges like staffing and PPE shortages. Counties must attest to an ability to protect their essential workforce. Counties must work with local hospitals and coalitions to maintain a surge capacity adequate for a growing number of individuals needing care for COVID-19. Counties must also demonstrate an ability to pull back to more stay-at-home restrictions if there is a rise in coronavirus numbers. San Die