Citing the economic toll of the COVID-19 outbreak in Ventura County, officials have lifted some restrictions under a modified “stay well at home” order announced Saturday.
The updated order, effective through May 15, lets nonpublic-serving businesses operate with up to 10 employees. It allows in-person sale of vehicles as well.
The order also permits gatherings of up to five people and outdoor activities in which up to five members of the same household stay inside their car while maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other vehicles.
Public and private golf courses may operate with some restrictions, with no more than four golfers allowed to play per group.
Six people or more gathering in the same room or space at the same time, including in golf courses and church services, are prohibited, and staying at home as much as possible and social distancing while conducting essential businesses are still required.
While gyms remain closed, exercising outside is allowed.
However, residents 70 or older with preexisting health conditions and those 75 or older must still stay at home and follow social distancing requirements “to the greatest extent feasible,” according to the county.
“We are positioned to focus on the road to reopening because our residents and businesses have sacrificed so much to comply with the Public Health Orders and slow the spread of the virus in our community,” Ventura County CEO Mike Powers said in a statement.
“Our current situation is further strengthened by the work of our local hospitals to expand their capacity,” he said. “These steps are critical because we know that, while the virus poses an unprecedented health threat, efforts to stem the virus come at a significant economic and health toll as we have seen with so many business closures and lost jobs.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently declared a “pandemic-induced recession” as the state reported losing nearly 100,000 jobs in March. Michael Bernick, former director of the California Employment Development Department, has predicted that California’s unemployment rate in April will be well over the highest rate it ever reached during the Great Recession.
Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin said officials will examine any impact of the modified order to the region’s COVID-19 rates, but that he doesn’t expect any change in trends for three or four weeks.
“If we find that we are losing ground, we’ll have to make adjustments,” Levin said.
As of Saturday, Ventura County has reported 13 deaths in the COVID-19 outbreak. Of 7,207 people tested for the virus, 416 have tested positive and 207 have recovered.