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Santa Barbara Economy: The County Begins to Reopen

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE COVID-19 TUNNEL?

Young woman in face mask and gloves takes payment from a customer at a floral shop. The florist wears a mask and gloves to avoid the infection of the coronavirus covid-19. The photo shows a customer paying with euro coins and banknotes.

After spending almost 8 weeks basically shut down, the Santa Barbara economy is beginning to reopen. That means California will have entered phase 2 of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 4-phase plan to fully reopen the entire state.

“Millions of Californians answered the call to stay home and thanks to them, we are in a position to begin moving into our next stage of modifying our stay at home order,” said Governor Newsom. “But make no mistake – this virus isn’t gone. It’s still dangerous and poses a significant public health risk. As we move into the next stage of reopening, we will do so with updated guidance to help qualifying businesses make modifications needed to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure to customers and workers. Californians should prepare now for that second stage of reopening.”

Santa Barbara County will set its own rules as we move from Stage 1 to Stage 2. For now, specific “safe” types of retail businesses can open, namely bookstores, music stores, toy stores, clothing stores, florists, and sporting goods stores.

Here are the 4 stages to gradually reopen the state’s businesses, eventually lifting all stay-at-home orders:

  • Safety and Preparedness
    Concentrate on making essential workplace environments as safe as possible
  • Lower Risk Workplace Openings
    Create opportunities for low-risk sectors to adapt and reopen. Plus, modified school and childcare reopenings.
  • Higher Risk Workplace Openings
    Focusing on safely opening more high-risk sections of the economy.
  • End of Stay at Home Orders
    Return to expanded workforce, even in high-risk sectors. This requires therapeutics.

In a pact with Oregon and Washington State, Newsom promised to work together to reopen the economies of all 3 states while continuing and expanding, the efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We will be driven by facts. We will be driven by evidence,” Newsom said. “We will be driven by science. We will be driven by our public health advisers, and we will be driven by the collaborative spirit that defines the best of us at this incredibly important moment.”

Local business thrilled to get back to work

Not all Stage 2 businesses will be able to open, although some retail, manufacturing, and logistics businesses can get back to business as long as they have made the safety modifications necessary during Stage 1.

“The commitment we made together to protect ourselves these past six weeks has worked, and we will soon be entering the next phase together,” Santa Barbara County Supervisor Greg Hart said. “The very good news the governor shared today does not in any way change the imperative we each share to continue to do the right thing and look out for each other.”

Other Stage 2 sectors, such as offices and dine-in restaurants, will have to wait to open. When it comes to schools, the state is working with school districts and the California education community to determine how to safely to reopen. 

Still, you will see some retail establishments reopen this week, thereby giving at least a small boost to the Santa Barbara economy. Stores can offer drop-off or pick-up, and manufacturing is set to resume production of nonessential items like toys, clothing, and furniture. When offices do reopen, they are encouraged to keep employees working from home whenever possible.

Greg Feitt, store manager of Chaucer’s Books, has been keeping his staff busy during this quarantine, filling telephone and online orders for customers.

“It’s a lot of work and we’re not making nearly the revenue we would if our doors were open. But it’s keeping us stable-ish.” Feitt went on to emphasize the need to open safely — for his customers and his staff: “We’re doing it as safely as possible. And if we can’t do it safely, we won’t do it.”

Young man sitting in a home office looking at a computer.

The New Normal

As we begin to venture out of self-isolation, experts warn that the lingering effects of the virus could shape our world (and the Santa Barbara economy) for years to come. For now, vulnerable populations are being asked to continue to shelter in place. And until there is a vaccine or at least a treatment for COVID-19, everyone will have to maintain some social distancing and practice heightened hygiene standards such as wearing masks and handwashing. No-touch hand sanitizer dispensers will become common everywhere. We will also need to avoid large-scale gatherings of more than 10 people. And you can forget about shaking hands or giving high-fives.

The possibility of serious illnesses spreading in the workplace could create a permanent shift toward working-from-home. That means video meetings could become much more common after COVID-19 than they were before the virus hit. Offices may decide to stagger employee’s hours and days in order to maintain social distance, and companies will offer more sick days so that workers can feel freer to stay home when they feel ill.

County’s First-Ever Community Testing Site Opens

Increased testing has been one of Santa Barbara County’s greatest hurdles to reopening, but it is quickly approaching the governor’s standards. In Santa Barbara, that’s due to the opening of the county’s first community-based testing site, with 2 additional testing sites coming soon: one more in Santa Barbara and the other in Lompoc.

At any of these sites, testing is available to residents regardless of their immigration status, whether they have medical insurance, or if they are homeless. Appointments can be made by calling (888) 634-1123. Approximately 135 tests can be administered at each location per day. The testing sites will be open 5 days a week, for at least 2 weeks or longer if necessary. 

Residents of Santa Barbara County are collectively and eagerly awaiting the end of this deadly virus. However, by reopening our communities the safest way possible, lives will be saved. That’s a real win-win.


Meanwhile, I’ll continue doing my part in helping the Santa Barbara economy by serving clients in the purchase and sale of distinctive Santa Barbara area homes. That, too, is a win-win. I have several new listings on my comprehensive website and more coming aboard all the time. So, give me a call or drop me an email and let’s talk. You can contact me at Cristal@Montecito-Estate or +1 (805) 886-9378.http://mailto:cristal@montecito-estate.com


 

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