COVID-19 Update

CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

San Joaquin County has been given the go-ahead to move further into Stage 2 of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Roadmap to Recovery.

The California Department of Public Health posted the county’s variance of attestation on its website just before 5 p.m. Thursday, permitting restaurants to reopen for both indoor and outdoor dining on Friday.

Retail stores, shopping malls, car washes, pet groomers, tanning facilities and childcare facilities will also be allowed to open, among other sectors.

Businesses reopening will be required to follow guidelines for their respective industries posted on the governor’s website once they open their doors.

Those guidelines include ensuring patrons and employees maintain six feet of distance between one another at all times, and that surfaces are cleaned and sanitized as often as possible. Employees must also be checked for COVID-19 symptoms each day before they enter the business, among other guidelines.

“This plan ensures a coordinated approach to safely and gradually reopen the county while addressing both the public health and economic emergencies created by COVID-19,” Dr. Maggie Park, San Joaquin County public health officer, said in a media statement Thursday. “The county has met all of the metrics required by the state ... We are confident that we can not only maintain these metrics but increase them in the coming days and weeks so we can safely and swiftly move into the next stage and reopen more routine activities and businesses.”

In the same media release, supervisor Chuck Winn, who represents Lodi, said the attestation was a giant step forward in completely reopening the county.

“Based upon the overwhelming cooperation of our residents, health care providers, the cities and county, we can meet these attestation requirements,” he said. “It also demonstrates how responsible we can be toward ensuring the health, safety and economic vitality of our county residents and businesses.”

Sam Rehmke, co-owner of the Lodi Beer Co. in Downtown Lodi, said she was excited the eatery — as well as others in Lodi — would finally be allowed to welcome diners.

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to open fully, or even partially this weekend because of our expansion,” she said. “We won’t be able to open for about another two weeks, but we’re still very excited. Hopefully this will drive up our ability to offer take-out.”

Rehmke said she watched the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday and was aware that Park was planning on submitting the attestation this week.

She said she informed all of her employees to plan on returning to work in the coming weeks.

Churches, gyms, bars and nightclubs, among others, are still not allowed to reopen, as Newsom has said he expects them to resume business in Stage 3 of his Roadmap to Recovery.

The county became one of 42 of the state’s 58 to obtain attestation to move further into Stage 2 of the governor’s plan for reopening.

Attestation comes as the Lodi City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a joint resolution with the county asking Newsom for local control to allow residents, businesses, houses of worship and school to resume activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lodi was the fourth city in the county to adopt the resolution, which was adopted by the Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting. The resolution states activities will resume in a manner that “does not menace public health.”

The Escalon City Council adopted the resolution on Monday, and leaders in Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon followed suit on Tuesday, according to Lodi City Attorney Janice Magdich.

The Tracy City Council will consider the resolution at its May 26 meeting, she said.

“I support this,” Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce said. “At this stage in the game I want to do every possible thing to get us open again.”

Mounce asked Magdich her thoughts on following the City of Atwater’s lead and declaring itself a sanctuary city, not for immigrants, but for businesses.

Last week, the Atwater City Council approved a resolution saying it “affirms the city’s commitment to fundamental constitutional rights,” according to Fresno’s ABC30 News.

Not only are businesses allowed to open under the city’s resolution, but nonprofit organizations such as churches were permitted as well.

However, ABC30 reported that businesses regulated by the state, including bars, nail and hair salons, could lose their licenses if they choose to open.

Magdich repeated that local jurisdictions cannot override the county public health order, nor orders issued by the governor and state, which she had explained during an earlier conversation at the meeting regarding Lodi Police Department officers and enforcement of the health orders.

“In essence, what Atwater is saying is that there is no emergency,” Magdich said. “If there’s no emergency, then they can’t demonstrate they’ve been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and they’re not going to qualify for any funding from the state or federal government. Disaster provision programs prohibit jurisdictions from receiving funding for any condition compromised by their own negligence.”

As an example, Magdich said if a city were to allow swimming pools to open and a patron contracted COVID-19 while at the pool, funding from both the state and federal government would be at risk.

She said the governor’s budget includes $1.3 billion in COVID-19 recovery funding for counties, and $450 million for cities, but agencies will only receive that funding if they adhere to federal guidelines, as well as stay-at-home orders.

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