Tri-Counties enter new stage of reopening
Many more businesses in the Tri-Counties were able to reopen June 12 following changes in the state’s COVID-19 guidance.
Businesses like movie theaters, zoos, museums, gyms, fitness centers, hotels (for tourism and individual travel), campgrounds and outdoor recreation will be able to reopen on the Central Coast soon.
San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have all met criteria for advanced Stage 2 reopening. The counties can move into Stage 3 at their own pace, based on their ability to contain and treat the coronavirus, according to guidance released by the California Department of Public Health.
The state said it is leaving the choice to reopen certain industries to each county’s officials.
But it’s good news for Gold’s Gym SoCal, which opened a location in Oxnard just a few weeks before the entire state went into lockdown. During the break, Gold’s Gym put members’ accounts into a freeze, so that members weren’t being charged for services they weren’t able to use, and led virtual fitness courses through Instagram.
With state regulations lifting, the Gold’s Gym SoCal locations in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Oxnard will all be able to reopen, with limited hours. From Monday to Friday, the gyms will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., with weekend hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Other parts of the economy are also getting a boost from the relaxed regulations. Of the industries allowed to reopen, hotels were never really closed – in fact, they were left open to allow essential workers to rent rooms and prevent them from taking the disease home to vulnerable loved ones — but the state is now specifically giving people the OK to start traveling again for tourism.
Counties have also started lifting their own limitations on tourism. In San Luis Obispo County, the county restricted short-term lodging facilities and vacation rentals to half capacity ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, in hopes that the measure would help the area avoid a boost in COVID-19 cases brought by people visiting from out of town.
The measure didn’t entirely work. Dr. Penny Borenstein, the SLO County public health officer, said there was a surge of visitors anyway. Still, as the county has kept its COVID-19 numbers low regardless, she announced in a press briefing June 5 that the county would be lifting the restriction.
Being able to move into Stage 3 was welcome news for an industry that has been hit particularly hard by the shutdown. Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara, said that at least half of the region’s tourism workforce was laid off or furloughed because of the pandemic. She estimated that tourism supported more than 13,000 jobs in the area, which means at least 6,500 people working in restaurants, wineries, arts and entertainment venues were affected.
“Tourism reopening means many of our neighbors, colleagues and friends can get back to earning a living and doing what they love — and it gives our struggling businesses a fighting chance to survive,” Janega-Dykes said in an email. “With the state now allowing leisure travel to resume, we have a real opportunity to salvage the summer tourism season.”
Being allowed to open doesn’t mean all businesses will be back at the same time. Outdoor and indoor malls were able to reopen their doors last week, as state regulations relaxed, but Pacific View Mall in Ventura stayed largely closed. It announced it was reopening on June 10, with a limited number of stores available for shopping and dining.
Another Central Coast mall, Paseo Nuevo, reopened on June 1, but with limited hours and stores open. To ensure people can safely visit the mall, Paseo Nuevo has added several hand sanitizer stations, and changed the configurations of eating areas to better accommodate social distancing.
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