by Kimberly Rivers

On Monday, May 4, Governor Gavin Newsom reported that some areas of the state may be eligible for limited reopening in certain retail businesses with curbside pickup as soon as Friday, May 8. 

Whether a business opens is based on the county meeting certain requirements that demonstrate effective local response in containing the spread of the coronavirus. 

Newsom mentioned certain retail businesses that have been identified as “low risk” by the state and identified for limited reopening: bookstores, clothing stores, florists and sporting goods stores.

Mike Powers, CEO of Ventura County told the Ventura County Supervisors on Tuesday that certain manufacturing and supply chain businesses have also been identified as low risk. But a list was not released. 

Ventura County officials, including Dr. Robert Levin, public health officer for Ventura County Public Health believes the county meets the state requirements and expects those businesses to be able to open on Friday, May 8, pending an order from Newsom expected on Thursday. 

At Tuesday’s Ventura County board of Supervisors meeting Supervisor Steve Bennett (Dist. 1)pointed out a potential challenge in enforcement regarding shoppers at larger stores that sell multiple types of products. He used Target stores as an example, which have roped off clothing areas to prevent “pawing” through the cloths, but that allow people to purchase food, cleaning products and other essential wares. Shoppers may find it hard to understand why they can buy one product in the store, but then have to go outside for curbside pickup, for items like clothes.

“Business is the backbone of our county,” said Levin at Tuesday’s meeting emphasizing that  he understands the connection between the economy and public health. Those with an income, he said, “ have better health, better food.” 

Supervisor Bob Huber (Dist. 4) spoke about the need for businesses to know before Friday if they can reopen because they have to plan and need time to hire staff and more. He stressed the importance of showing that the county is “business friendly,” and for several weeks has pointed out that people are driving into Los Angeles County to buy goods they cannot get closer to home, potentially being exposed to the virus. 

“We are not pleasing everyone,” said Kelly Long, Chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday about the limited reopening but she emphasized the “balance” that is needed, and that the community needs to continue the great work of staying at home and social distancing. She mentioned last Friday’s protests with people demanding everything be opened up, but that the community needs to keep helping the county protect everyone’s health. “Work with us to really help get this going.”  

“Health is equally important for our local economy,” said Powers, emphasizing the connection between complying with the public health orders and the county being able to reopen according to the state’s phased plan. He said the public health orders for staying at home, and keeping some businesses closed are in “perfect alignment” with ensuring local businesses are able to open as soon as possible. 

Newsom’s written statement about the limited reopening is online:

Newsom’s Monday, May 4, press briefing: