California enters Phase 2 of reopening, allowing specific retail stores to open with curbside pick-up only. Recently, counties in Southern California are urging Gov. Newsom to allow more businesses to reopen. 

On May 11, supervisors from Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego county wrote a letter to Gov. Newsom addressing the State should allow these counties to open more businesses.

“Several of our counties have adopted Readiness and Recovery plans developed in coordination with business leaders representing various key sectors to identify guidelines that will ensure employees and consumers are protected,” the letter read.

Costa Mesa, a city in Orange County, has created a recovery team to help develop guidelines for local businesses. The team consists of 70 business and community leaders assisting the public. 

“What we’re doing is taking those guidelines and creating a checklist for local businesses. As well as listening to the business community to learn what are some issues or obstacles that are preventing them from reopening,” Costa Mesa Mayor, Katrina Foley, told Scriberr News. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has deeply impacted the economy and millions of lives across the United States. 

In April, about 70 percent of small businesses applied for paycheck protective program loans (PPPL), and the outbreak has negatively impacted 90 percent of small business owners, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey

“I believe that all businesses should reopen immediately to continue business operations as long as they are in compliance with the Orange County Business Guidelines,” Vice-Chair County Supervisor, Michelle Steel, told Scriberr News.

As small businesses struggle to stay afloat, many employees have been laid off or furloughed due to the outbreak. The unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

“Too many people have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, and in many cases their ability to put food on the table for their families. Our working families in Orange County can’t wait for the state’s approval to go back to work,” Steel said. 

But reopening Orange County’s economy has been met with some resistance, as some residents don’t agree with the county’s leaders and worry the respiratory virus will continue to spread. 

“I think cities are worried more about businesses and making money, summer is Orange County’s season. Tourism drives a lot of the economy in the county, with beaches and other businesses closed, the county could lose a lot of money,” resident of Costa Mesa, April Conn told Scriberr News. 

In Costa Mesa, retail stores Nordstrom and Macy’s reopened, helping contribute to the city’s sales tax dollars they desperately need, Foley explained.

“The way they have been reopening works out well because businesses are going broke and they have to get them back open,” resident of Laguna Niguel, Rex Sample told Scriberr News. 

“But they cannot jeopardize the safety of the workers or the public by doing so,” he said.

Many counties throughout the state have not achieved the governor’s criteria to move forward through Phase 2 of reopening, including Orange. 

If counties wish to progress through Phase 2, the county must have no more than 1 COVID-19 case per 10,000 in the past 14 days and no COVID-19 death in the past 14 days prior to the submission date, according to the California Department of Public Health.

“Our goal is to be guided by the science and make sure that Costa Mesa businesses are as safe as they possibly can be as we move into the different phases of the reopening,” Foley said. 

As the summer season approaches, Californians are eager to enjoy the sunshine by flocking to local beaches. 

On April 30, California Gov. Gavin Newsom enforced a strict closure of all Orange County beaches, after photos of packed Newport Beach stunned the internet for the weekend of April 25. 

Now, beaches in Orange County have been reopened with many restrictions and guidelines. 

“I don’t think the governor should have closed our beaches because they’re local beaches, not state beaches,” San Clemente Mayor James Ferguson told Scriberr News.

“So I know it’s happened, and I still don’t know of any legal authority that was fighting to have done that to justify the directives to them to have a hard close to our beaches,” he said.

After April 30, Orange County beaches needed permission from the state to reopen their beaches with restrictions. 

“This is yet another example of the state’s attempt to micromanage Orange County and its cities. Orange County has been very proactive in ensuring the safety and public health of our residents,” Steel said, and noted that evidence “can be seen in our comparatively low COVID-19 case counts, deaths and hospitalization.”

Orange County currently has 4,500 cases of COVID-19 with a total of 88 deaths as of May 19, according to the Orange County Health Agency.

Beaches are now only permitted for active use within allotted hours and residents are not allowed to stay in one spot. 

“I want our beaches open for everyone to use, and there you know the fullest capacity,” Ferguson said. “I am going to ask for that again at our next meeting, and I’ve been asking for that since April 21.” 

San Clemente has over 4.8 miles of beach, Foley explained, so she believes there is plenty of room for beachgoers to social distance. Sample explained to Scriberr News that social distancing is not on everyone’s mind when going to the beach.

“The issue is that people think when you’re at the beach, you’re going to set your stuff up on top of someone else; honestly no one has ever set up within 6 feet of each other, and especially now,” Sample said. 

Yet, having the beaches open provides visitors with significant mental and physical benefits while shelter-in-place orders continue. 

An article written by Harvard Health Publishing found five benefits of outdoor activities, which included a boost of vitamin D, exercising, positive mood change, improvement of concentration, and faster healing. 

“I truly do think that just go to the beach, and don’t you just feel better?” Ferguson said. “Out on the ocean, getting some exercise, and the cool breezes it just gives you so much good serenity.”

Written ByMaydeen Merino

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