The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to take another step in possibly reopening facilities such as gymnasiums, hotels and cultural venues closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The supervisors' request -- to be made in the form of a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom -- also includes seeking more leeway to allow the reopening of wineries, breweries, churches, theme parks, youth sports facilities, charter and fishing boats and public swimming pools.
Supervisors also voted Tuesday to formally take a position on immediately reopening all beach activities and requested a staff report on how the coronavirus has impacted the most vulnerable populations.
Supervisor Jim Desmond made the recommendations. He credited county
health staff for their diligent work in helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but said it was time "to empower people to get back to work."
"We now have added tensions in our nation, along with the virus," said Desmond, referring to protests erupting nationwide over the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. "The quicker we return to work, the better."
Desmond, the board vice chairman, also stressed that businesses have the right practices in place to safely reopen.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher cast the dissenting vote. In a statement, he said that while he agrees with the need to continue with the safe reopening, and that some additional entities are ready to open at this time, he "could not support the calls by my colleagues to reopen higher-risk entities like churches at full capacity immediately."
The vote came after supervisors heard an update from several county officials, including Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, on efforts to contain the pandemic.
The board also heard from more than 30 public speakers, including many who work in the hotel and sport fishing industries, imploring the county to allow them to resume normal operations.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob said having business protocols are very important in terms of reopening the county, which is facing a "triple whammy: a public safety crisis on top of a public health crisis on top of an economic crisis."
County residents and businesses "have demonstrated that they know what to do,'' Jacob added. "I also some time ago called for more local control.''
She said it's important that the county continue to monitor the pandemic spread and work with major hospital systems to ensure their support of further loosening restrictions.
Whatever the county does, there's going to be a risk, but "it's just a matter of how much risk we're willing to take at this point,'' Jacob said.