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North County Mayors Want Businesses To Reopen This Week, Governor Says Not So Fast

A closed sign at the Currant American Brasserie in downtown San Diego on Marc...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: A closed sign at the Currant American Brasserie in downtown San Diego on March 26, 2020. The cafe is one of many businesses that had to close down because of the COVD-19 pandemic.

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Hair salons, bars, gyms, and golf courses have been closed for more than a month under coronavirus restrictions. Now a handful of mayors in San Diego county are calling for these and other non-essential businesses to reopen as soon as this week.

Aired: April 29, 2020 | Transcript

Hair salons, bars, gyms, and golf courses have been closed for more than a month under coronavirus restrictions. Now a handful of mayors in San Diego county are calling for these and other non-essential businesses to reopen as soon as this week.

"This is about jobs," said San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who represents large parts of North County. He led a news conference Tuesday with the mayors of Carlsbad, Escondido, Vista, San Marcos and Oceanside. They are calling on the county to lobby for reopening non-essential businesses as soon May 1st.

"This is about the thousands and thousands of people that are out of work mostly from the service industry, the restaurants, places like that," Desmond said.

"We have over 5,000 room nights here in Carlsbad in our hotel businesses," said Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall. "That supports 20,000 people to make that happen. Right now all those hotels are closed."

The Vista mayor Judy Ritter said restrictions have been in place long enough. "We’ve been operating under the stay at home order for over a month now which has created a devastating financial impact on many of our local businesses and their employees," she said. "Especially our local breweries."

Reported by Matt Hoffman

The mayors said business owners are telling them they are hurting.

"It’s time for us to start to get the economy, all aspects of it, going again," said Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss. "And I think we can do it in a safe manner."

Escondido mayor Paul McNamara said his city has a lot of working-class residents that want to see action. "We want guidance from county health professionals, but we can’t wait forever," he said. "We need to start doing something."

The mayors said non-essential businesses can adopt the same guidelines that essential businesses are using to stay open.

"We received plans from them to limit their capacity, to take temperatures and they are willing to wear masks to ensure the safety of their employees and patrons," said San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday science and data about the virus, those infected and hospitalization rates will guide the decision on when to reopen.

"Politics will not drive our decision making, protests won’t drive our decision making, political pressure won’t drive our decision making," Newsom said.

The governor said California missed the surge of cases that places like New York saw. But he said it will be weeks before non-essential businesses might be able to reopen, because if restrictions are relaxed now, "It could start a second wave that could be even more damaging than the first and undo all of the good work and progress that you've made."

Desmond said the situation is getting desperate.

"We need a handful of businesses to be phased in and see how it goes," he said. "Then phase in the next set of businesses and then if we have a big surge, or that happens later, on we’re not so far out on a limb that we can't retreat."

Last week Desmond and Supervisor Kristin Gaspar asked county officials to lobby the state to reopen non essential businesses on May 1st, but Supervisors Nathan Fletcher, Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox voted that motion down.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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