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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

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

Speaker 1: 00:00 The tension between continuing to protect public health as a shuttered economy crumbles is being brought into sharp relief by some mayors in North San Diego County. It's time they set an, a teleconference yesterday to reopen hair salons, bars, gyms, golf courses, and other non-essential businesses closed for more than a month amid the COBIT 19 pandemic. Joining me to discuss this is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Matt, welcome. Hey Mark. We'll start with who's pushing to ease these restrictions placed by governor Gavin Newsome and broadly adhered to so far by businesses and the public across California. Speaker 2: 00:36 Right. So we have mayors from the cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Vista, San Marcos, and Oceanside. Uh, they're all sort of being organized by a San Diego County supervisor, Jim Desmond, uh, who used to be a mayor in San Marcos and represents a district five, which is much of North County there. So we're seeing a lot of these North County, the 78 corridor mayors, as they call themselves, uh, sort of come together here. Speaker 1: 00:57 And what are they saying about why we need to open these businesses right now? Some of them are emphasizing different reasons, right? Speaker 2: 01:04 Yeah. Basically they say that this is about jobs. You know, this is about the thousands and thousands of people inside their communities, inside their cities that are out of work right now. I mean, they're saying that a lot of people are coming to them saying, Hey, when is this going to end? It's been going on long enough in our, in our communities here. I mean in Vista we have a mayor talking about how local breweries are impacted majorly. And then here's the mayor of Escondido talking about his city. Speaker 3: 01:27 The harsh reality is we're all faced, especially in Escondido, which is a working class city with a lot of people who are not getting paychecks and they are wondering where they're, they're, where the money is going to be coming from to buy the essentials for their families. Uh, May 1st was the date that we sat down, but, uh, I would almost phrase it as sooner is better than later. How we do this. We want the guidance of course, from the County health professionals, but we can't wait forever. We need to start doing something. Speaker 2: 02:00 Yeah. So we're seeing mayors, they're saying that they want businesses open basically as soon as possible. I mean may one, that's this Friday. Speaker 1: 02:05 And did mayor McNamara there from Escondido, did he give details of how he thinks they should happen? Speaker 2: 02:11 No. You know, he didn't give any details about how he thinks it should happen. You know, he did say that they want to consult with the public health professionals here and you know, they're not, they're not necessarily saying they have all the answers, but they definitely want to get the conversation started and started Speaker 3: 02:23 very quickly Speaker 1: 02:24 and a County supervisor, Jim Desmond a, what did he say about how this should be done? Speaker 2: 02:29 Right. So supervisor Jim Desmond and keep in mind too, last week he actually brought a motion at the County board of supervisor meeting, uh, to basically, uh, have the County lobby, the state of California to start reopening come may one here. Now that motion failed, the majority of the board voted that down. So he's very anxious to get the County back open. He basically says that the situation right now is getting desperate. Speaker 3: 02:51 We need to crack this door over. We need to start the economy going again. You know, we need a handful of businesses to be phased in Speaker 2: 02:58 and then see it goes and then phase in the next set of businesses. And then, and then if we have a, we have a big surgery that happens later on, we're not so far out on the limb that we can't retreat. Right. So he basically saying they're like, let's just give it a shot. Speaker 1: 03:12 But as you noted, uh, uh, Desmond does not have her agreement across the board of County supervisors. Nathan Fletcher has been a spokesman through all this and these, uh, almost daily briefings. What does Fletcher have to say about opening businesses now? Speaker 2: 03:26 Right. So yesterday at the County daily briefing, they were asked about a super extra Desmond and this coalition of mayors here and supernatural flusher basically echoed comments that a governor Newsome said earlier in the day, um, you know, saying that politics will not drive our decision making. Uh, that data will, you know, there are States working out this six indicators basically looking at things like testing hospitalization rates. So the governor said yesterday, it's basically going to be, you know, weeks. He said, he said weeks, not months before some of these non-essential businesses are going to be open, but it's not going to be anything coming down quick and super as Fletcher. Basically echoing those comments on behalf of the County saying that, you know, if, if we loosen restrictions too early, then we could see, you know, we did kind of Dodge the bullet in terms of a first big wave of cases, but you know, if we lax restrictions now, then we might see a, uh, even worse wave coming next. Speaker 1: 04:13 Now governors like Newsome are certainly agreeing with medical experts saying massive testing is needed before restrictions can be lifted. What are these mayors and supervisor Desmond say about flying blind not knowing who's infected as businesses reopened? Speaker 2: 04:27 Right. Well, I think basically what they're saying is, Hey, look, you know, there's these quote unquote essential businesses, you know, grocery stores that are able to stay open and they're implementing things like six feet social distancing. You know, we're seeing some of those screens being put up there kind of saying, Hey, you know, why can't these non essential businesses just do what they're doing and reopen in the same way? And they also talked about consumer confidence. They said, you know, they, they, they did realize that consumers have to have some confidence here. You know, if they said we're going to reopen businesses tomorrow, you know, that doesn't mean that everybody's going to go rush out there because consumers have to have confidence that they're going to feel safe. The governor talked about that too, but they're really just saying, Hey, you know, it's not fair that these quote unquote essential businesses can stay open where we have all these non essential businesses that make up a large portion of the community that are all hurting here being closed for more than a month. Speaker 1: 05:12 And do the mayors have any, uh, idea about customers or employees wishing to go back now in these non-essential businesses? Any surveys been done or indication of how customers and employees feel about it? Speaker 2: 05:24 Right, actually, yeah. County supervisor, Jim Desmond. He's been asking for feedback from local businesses in the County about what they should do. And uh, he actually delivered to County health officials, uh, plans, uh, hundreds of plans. He says from business owners who like kind of, we were talking about saying, Hey, you know, we will wear masks. We'll take people's temperatures, we'll do whatever it is that we need to do. There is a supervisor meeting on May 5th, who knows, maybe he'll make another motion to try to reopen as soon as possible. Speaker 1: 05:50 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman. Thanks Matt. Thanks Mark.

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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.
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