Riverside County supervisor wants to challenge Sacramento and reopen businesses faster – press enterprise


Saying families are suffering, a Riverside County supervisor wants to reject the state’s coronavirus reopening framework in favor of a county-controlled plan that would allow businesses to reopen faster and without restrictions such as limits on capacity.Jeff Hewitt’s proposal is on the agenda for Tuesday, September 22 of the Supervisory Board. If passed, he would stage a showdown between one of California’s largest counties and Sacramento over when and how to ease the mandates imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Representatives from the governor’s office and the State Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday afternoon.

Like the rest of California, Riverside County is subject to the State Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a color-coded four-tier system that lifts COVID-19 restrictions based on case levels and rates of test positive for the virus.

Currently, the county is in the purple level, or the most restrictive. But as early as Tuesday, improved settings could take the county to red levels, allowing malls, restaurants and other businesses to resume operations indoors with limits on how many people can. be there.

Before the four-tier system took shape, Riverside County, in a letter to state officials, proposed a phased reopening of businesses starting on Labor Day. Supervisors have openly expressed frustration with Sacramento’s changing COVID-19 rules, which they see as stifling the county’s serious efforts to revive an economy plagued by a pandemic.

A libertarian elected in 2018, Hewitt was particularly critical of the state’s restrictions on COVID-19.

“The lack of clear direction from the state has left thousands of people (sic) unsure of their ability to pay their bills and support their families,” wrote Hewitt, whose district includes the pass, the valley of Moreno, Perris and Menifee, in a note to his colleagues. .

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“… We (will) feel the burden of these economic impacts for years to come, it is time for Riverside County to take responsibility for our own well-being.”

In a telephone interview, Hewitt said his office constantly hears from families desperate to return to work and send their children back to school. The closure took a toll on residents’ finances as well as their physical and mental health, he said.

“They die in a way that’s not like falling from a plane and hitting the ground,” Hewitt said. “They die slowly.”

The supervisor said his plan – which if approved would be on Tuesday – is similar to what the county proposed in Sacramento before Labor Day.

“This has the potential that we can come together and not only protect ourselves… but we will have it done by the people who know Riverside County best,” he said.

Unlike the state plan, Hewitt’s plan would not limit the ability of businesses to reopen.

“Putting an arbitrary percentage point on something doesn’t answer anything… you end up with a size that doesn’t fit anyone,” Hewitt said. “If (businesses) put everyone above everyone else, they’re going to lose a lot of business” from security-conscious customers.

According to Hewitt’s plan, the restaurants; vineyards; breweries; places of worship; interior offices; personal care businesses such as body art stores and indoor malls could reopen after Tuesday. In comparison, the state framework only allows limited domestic winemaking operations in the third level or orange level, while breweries that do not provide meals cannot open until the orange level, and only for those. outdoor operations.

Wedding receptions and group events at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less, would get the green light after October 13. Gyms, cinemas and bars could reopen after November 3.

Along the way, county officials, including those in the public health department, would assess the parameters before the plan moved into the next phase. Hewitt’s memo also highlights the importance of social distancing, face covering in public, and testing to control the virus, though its plan is not clear whether companies would be required to apply masks and social distancing.

Hewitt’s proposal would also allow gyms and movie theaters to reopen later than the state’s plan, although wineries may reopen earlier. The supervisor said his plan could be adjusted to allow businesses to reopen sooner, depending on the settings and input from county experts.

Supervisors fear that challenging Sacramento could jeopardize the county’s funding. In May, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned rural counties that allowed businesses to open in defiance of his stay-at-home order that they risked losing funding in the event of a disaster.


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