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San Diego County Allows More Businesses to Reopen

A sign in front of MaryJane's restaurant in downtown San Diego on May 5, 2020, shows the eatery is still open for takeout orders while still closed for sit-in dining because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Alexander Nguyen
A sign in front of MaryJane's restaurant in downtown San Diego on May 5, 2020, shows the eatery is still open for takeout orders while still closed for sit-in dining because of the coronavirus pandemic.

UPDATE: 6:57 a.m., May 13, 2020

California wants restaurants to screen guests for symptoms, have servers wear masks and keep diners at least 6 feet apart under guidance released Tuesday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Also on KPBS’ San Diego News Matters podcast: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Arturo González Cruz announced a new regional binational working group focused on tracking cross-border cases of coronavirus and more local news you need.

San Diego County has approved the opening of another round of businesses and services, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's guidance on reopening California's economy, as county officials reported 96 new COVID-19 cases and 15 additional deaths.

Office-based businesses are permitted to reopen, although Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said county health officials still "strongly encourage telework."


Malls — indoor, outdoor and strip malls — are also allowed to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery only. No customers are allowed inside stores and outside pick up points should be clearly marked.

Other businesses or services able to open include car washes, pet grooming businesses, landscaping businesses and outdoor museums.

These businesses can open as soon as ready, but must first fill out the safe reopening plan located on the county's website.

VIDEO: California Makes Progress To Increase Testing, But There's Still More To Be Done

All businesses must follow hygiene, physical distancing and health screening guidelines. Face coverings are also required for all employees, including employees in office settings.

Newsom released guidelines Tuesday for the state's restaurant industry to reopen safely. While there is no timeline attached to opening restaurants, the guidelines allow business owners to prepare for that day.


With the new case numbers and deaths reported Tuesday, the county's totals rose to 5,161 cases and 190 deaths.

The 15 additional deaths occurred between May 7 and May 11. All of the deceased had underlying health conditions and their ages ranged from 56 to 92, according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

The county reported 2,440 tests Tuesday, and it has completed a total of 84,556. Among those tests are 1,126 at the San Diego Convention Center among staff, volunteers and residents.

Of the tests reported Tuesday, 4% were positive, bringing the rolling total to under 5%.

Fletcher said the biggest challenge going forward for local governments was to build up testing and tracing capabilities, something he said would continue long after businesses reopen.

San Diego County brought a few more contact tracer employees onboard since Monday, raising the total to 170, and has completed 6,294 contact investigations. The county has a goal of hiring 450 total contact tracers.

As of Tuesday, 400 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with 144 in intensive care units.

Since the pandemic began, 996 people have been hospitalized in the county, with 309 spending some time in intensive care. There have been an estimated 3,124 recoveries from the illness in the region.

"The metrics are all trending in the right direction," Wooten said Tuesday.

Sycuan Casino Resort announced plans Tuesday to reopen at noon on May 20 with health and sanitation practices in place.

The reopening will take place two months to the hour since the resort was closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Bingo and poker will remain closed as part of the phased reopening. Restaurants will operate for limited hours and gaming areas will require appropriate spacing between players and staff.

Tables games will be limited to a maximum of three players per table and every other slot machine will be turned off to further encourage space between players.

Patrons and staff will also be required to undergo temperature checks, wear masks at all times and practice physical distancing.

Viejas Casino & Resort announced plans last week to reopen on May 18.

Both casinos are on tribal land, meaning they are not subject to the same state regulations that have limited most business operations in California.