The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a set of guidelines that'll serve as a framework for how regional, low-risk businesses will operate as they reopen in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.
The framework – outlined at a Monday news briefing by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Supervisor Greg Cox – includes five criteria for local businesses to follow as they reopen.
This comes as California inches toward Phase 2 of its statewide reopening plan. Some businesses could return to providing in-person service as soon as this Friday, according to Governor Gavin Newsom. Once Newsom clears the way, businesses in San Diego County will have to satisfy local criteria if they want to open their doors.
“These recommendations we’re outlining and forwarding today give our businesses a head start on repairing, and the state and the county will eventually give the green light," Faulconer said.
Faulconer and Cox said the framework covers five criteria. Here's what that entails:
- Employee health: Require Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for employees and commit to voluntary compliance with public health officials on contact tracing and testing.
- Safe worksite entry: Establish controlled entrance and exit practices to avoid queuing issues and work with the Public Health Department to create processes for employee symptom checks.
- Workplace distancing and conditions: Evaluate occupancy and capacity to ensure proper physical distancing and keep shifts consistent with the same employees in each rotation or shift.
- Employee training and compliance: Ensure signage on safety requirements, such as hand washing, physical distancing and reporting procedures for employees who become ill.
- Enhanced cleaning and sanitation: Develop a sanitation plan that includes frequent cleaning of restrooms, workstations, and public spaces.
The creation of the guidelines was helped along by recommendations from the regional economic recovery advisory group, also known as RECOVER, formed by Faulconer and Cox in mid-April. The group includes representatives from San Diego's biggest industries, including restaurants, tourism, and real estate.
Faulconer said RECOVER was tasked with developing ways that local businesses will keep both customers and employees safe when they open their doors again.
“We’ve said all along the governor would determine the when in reopening, and we’ll determine the how," Cox said at Monday's briefing.
Cox said the guidelines are likely to be amended and likely to appear in revisions of the county's Public Health Order.
“What we can do is help make it easier for businesses to reopen safely and smartly and smoothly as soon as possible if they have a set of guidelines to work from," Cox added.
At Tuesday’s vote, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the plan for reopening some San Diego-area businesses is simple and reflects the world in which we now live.
“We recognize, as we move forward, we have to adapt,” Fletcher said. “We can’t go back to the way things were before, without a vaccine.”
“We are very well-positioned in this county because of the actions we have taken together,” Faulconer said Tuesday. “San Diego County can now lead the state in safely reopening our businesses because of the hard work business groups and organizations have been working on.”
“Our county has been prepared; we need to do it safely,” the mayor added. “We are not out of the woods. We are headed in the right direction because of our hard work.”
The County Board of Supervisors heard from many members of the community Tuesday including owners of salons, spas and furniture stores who said they were ready to reopen.
Cox said the framework approved by the board is a “starting point.” As businesses come up with their plans to reopen, they will need to address the five criteria outlined in the framework.
The public health director will make the final decision on the county order based on the framework. NBC 7 will share that information here as soon as it’s available.