SAN BERNARDINO — The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors called a special meeting Wednesday morning and directed staff to ask the governor's office for support in opening more businesses, including short-term rentals, tattoo parlors and restaurants for dining in.
The supervisors told staff to push forward with their plan to present a readiness and recovery plan to the governor’s office as soon as possible. The plan urges the governor to allow the county to open businesses at their own time and argues that the county is ready to open low-to-medium-risk businesses.
Those businesses also include retail businesses for in-house shopping, grooming salons, zoos, museums, catering businesses, churches and libraries.
In the Morongo Basin, a handful of shops and pet groomers have already opened.
The supervisors' special meeting came after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that he was expanding the types of businesses that could open in the early phase of stage two to include car washes, pet grooming, landscaping gardening, offices, outdoor museums and childcare for those outside the essential workforce.
The governor also announced that approved counties, which does not include San Bernardino County, are allowed to open dine-in restaurants and shopping malls.
Approved counties were required to show the state that they had no COVID-related deaths in the past 14 days and had the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients that they may receive. The counties approved were limited to small rural counties including El Dorado, Butte, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Amador and Shasta.
Newsom also announced in his Tuesday briefing that he was in discussion with 27 other countries about regional variances that may allow some flexibility in the state order.
“I know others are eager to move more quickly and we will work with every county, with every city in a practical and responsible way,” Newsom said. “This is a health-driven conversation. It’s not because we don’t want to. It’s not because we would not like to. It’s not because we want to be particularly oppressive in terms of people’s desires and needs. It’s because public health dictates that we do this in a judicious and thoughtful way.”
The board sent a letter to Newsom’s office on Friday, May 8, asking that San Bernardino County be allowed to move forward with reopening stage two businesses, and even stage three businesses at their own discretion. The letter included signatures from mayors of local cities including Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms and stated that San Bernardino County’s size would make it nearly impossible to fall in the governor’s strict parameters for reopening.
“The goal of this is to get a meeting with the governor where we can go over the plan for our unique, diverse and widespread county,” said Chief Operating Officer Leonard Hernandez.
After drafting the letter, the board directed staff to create a plan for reopening to submit to the governor’s office for approval. In the plan, the county notes that nearly half of the positive cases in San Bernardino County, which was at 3,078 confirmed cases and 120 deaths on Wednesday morning, come from congregate settings including prisons and nursing homes.
Newsom announced on Tuesday that Kern County was in a similar situation and, as such, was in conversations with the governor’s office to open more businesses. Hernandez said that this made him and his team hopeful that San Bernardino County will be given some leeway soon.
The county is asking that the governor’s office allow them to move deeper into stage two because of this unique situation and also because the county’s number of in-hospital patients has remained flat for the last two weeks, allowing the county hospitals to show that they have an abundance of supplies if more residents do get sick.
The county identified low-to-medium-risk businesses in the next stage of reopening as retail businesses for in-house shopping, short-term rentals, pet grooming salons, tattoo parlors, zoos and museums, restaurants for dine-in services, catering businesses, churches and libraries.
“It’s time we step forward and open up all opportunities,” said Supervisor Robert Lovingood. “There’s no reason people can be in a grocery store, pick up things and put them back down and we can’t open small businesses.”
The rest of the board members agreed and said that they’d like to move quickly in starting negotiations with the governor’s office in a hope to get the plan approved as quickly as possible.
To view the entire readiness and reopening plan visit https://sanbernardino.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8331363&GUID=13D6F055-F2B2-464A-9F8F-D75B93D290FE.