UPDATE: No Dine-in Currently Allowed — Congratulations, Shasta County! Welcome to Stage 2! Eat, Drink and Be Wary

What forbidden activities did you miss most during the nearly seven weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic shut-down? Shopping? Eating out? Getting your car washed? Having your kids attend school?

May 11 UPDATE: According to a media briefing this afternoon, restaurants are not allowed to open yet. the information published below was based upon direction following last week’s Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting that gave the green light for dine-in options for businesses that had complied with state adaptations.

As of yesterday, many of your favorite Shasta County stores, restaurants and schools are now allowed to re-open — with some caveats and adaptations– as the county transitions from Stage 1 into Stage 2. This graduation is a result of the efforts of citizens and county public health officials who joined forces to obey the governor’s stay-at-home orders and helped flatten the COVID-19 curve and keep our county’s numbers low.

This welcome news arrived Friday afternoon during a Shasta County Board of Supervisors’ special meeting to discuss re-opening the county. There, Dr. Karen Ramstrom, the county’s health officer, was the bearer of good news when she certified that Shasta County had met state requirements to ease from the more-restrictive shut-downs of Stage 1 to the relatively more relaxed Stage 2.

The certification required some hoop-jumping and documentation on Shasta County’s part to assure the state that the county could pass some key benchmarks and meet the state’s criteria before it could modify the Stage 1 stay-at-home order. Examples included proof that the county had sufficient testing and hospital capacity, and it had the ability to not just test people, but identify, isolate and trace the infected and their contacts.

At the meeting, after many questions and much discussion, the supervisors unanimously approved a letter of support for the county’s re-opening. Following the meeting, Ramstrom shared the information with the state, an act that rendered the decision official.

(Click here to watch a recording of the meeting.) 

Additional action taken on May 8 during the Shasta County Board of Supervisors’ special meeting was a BOS letter sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom that requested the governor consider allowing Shasta County to also open some Stage 3 businesses that are currently not permitted to open. That decision is expected to be made by the governor at a later date. For the time being, only Stage 2 businesses are allowed to open in Shasta County. A list of those business sectors is detailed in this updated press release and on ShastaReady.org (click on “Roadmap to Recovery”).

Despite moving away from the constricting Stage 1, Stage 2 does come with some strings attached. That’s why, along with the elation over the county’s re-openings of so many businesses that were closed since mid-March, the citizens face the stark reality that business will be anything but usual in Shasta County. Yes, many businesses will be allowed to open, but with significant caveats and adaptations. And because this is a new frontier, there may be some bumps in the road until the path becomes more clear on such details as whether restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol in addition to food this weekend, or if it’s better to proceed with caution and wait until after Monday to see what the ABC has to say about it.

Even so, the county’s escalation into Stage 2 allows about 70 percent of the businesses that had been previously closed in Stage 1 to re-open in Stage 2. Those businesses and industries have the discretion to re-open at a time that suits them. Case in point, some businesses re-opened Friday after the announcement, because they were able to immediately implement state requirements and adjustments. Other businesses may choose to wait days or even weeks to come into compliance with Stage 2 guidelines, and to gear up, and bring back employees and inventory.

As Shasta County eases into Stage 2, businesses and customers alike will be asked to adjust to the new normal that requires everyone to walk the tightrope between the value in kick-starting the local economy and Job No. 1 of keeping the public safe from the pandemic.

According to a statement in the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency COVID-19 update, “the staged plan is necessary to continue to limit the spread of COVID-19 and relies fully on the engagement and cooperation of individuals and businesses.”

That engagement and cooperation means that while excited business managers and owners rise to the challenge of reopening after being closed for nearly two months, they must also comply with new public health requirements.

The state has issued Resilience Roadmap guidelines to help businesses open in a way that’s safe and smart for customers and employees alike. 

As a result, in Stage 2, the public can expect to see some of their old familiar places looking foreign and unfamiliar: reconfigured floor plans, hands-free payments, curb-side pickup, additional online and delivery options, signs and directional arrows, rearranged furniture, and features to ensure customers and employees maintain adequate social distancing and sanitation practices.

Businesses allowed to re-open (with adaptations)

• Some work places
Retail, including but not limited to: Bookstores, jewelry stores, toy stores, clothing stores, shoe stores, home and furnishing stores, sporting goods stores, antique stores, music stores, florists. (SEE UPDATE, ABOVE.) 
• Supply chains supporting the above businesses, in manufacturing and logistical sectors
• Agriculture and livestock
• Food packing
• Manufacturing
Destination retail, including shopping malls and swap meets (SEE UPDATE, ABOVE.) 
• Personal services, limited to car washes, pet grooming, tanning facilities, and landscape gardening
• Office-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged)
• *Dine-in restaurants (other facility amenities, like bars or gaming areas, are not permitted) (SEE UPDATE, ABOVE.) 
• Outdoor museums and open gallery spaces (SEE UPDATE, ABOVE.) 
• Outdoor recreation: Public spaces such as parks, trails, and golf courses should limit crowds and ensure physical distancing. Use of boats should be limited to household contacts or half occupancy.
• Schools and childcare: with adaptations to ensure students and staff are protected. Precautions should be provided to families with vulnerable groups that live in the same household.
• Childcare and summer programs: children should receive care in groups of 12 or fewer. If multiple groups of children are within the same facility, keep the same childcare worker with the same children in order to minimize risk.
• School: preparations for Shasta County schools which are scheduled to resume the week of August 10, 2020.
• Faith community: continue remote offerings.
• Healthcare services: may continue to gradually resume based on guidance outlined in Stage 1. Includes routine medical care, dental care and optometry.

*Note – Direction for local restaurants may change if the California Department of Public Health modifies their guidance.

Source: State of California, Roadmap to Recovery

The Shasta County HHSA encourages business owners to review the state’s industry-specific guidance and  create a re-opening plan using the template at www.ShastaReady.org (click on Roadmap to Recovery). For additional assistance, email COVID19@co.shasta.ca.us.

The 30 percent left behind, outside of Stage 2: Considered higher-risk workplaces

Although the majority of Shasta County business are allowed to reopen with adaptations within the security of Stage 2, the state has deemed it risky and therefore premature to allow about 30 percent of businesses to open. Those businesses include, but are not limited to:

• Personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios
• Hospitality services, such as bars and lounges
• Entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, gaming facilities, and pro sports
• Indoor museums, kids museums and gallery spaces, zoos, and libraries
• Community centers, including public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas
• Religious services and cultural ceremonies
• Nightclubs
• Concert venues
• Festivals
• Theme parks
• Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism
Source: State of California, Roadmap to Recovery

For more information for businesses and consumers, go to www.ShastaReady.org and click on Roadmap to Recovery. For businesses that need information about the state’s requirements before opening, click here.

Finally, remember that being in Stage 2 does not leave everything contained in Stage 1 behind. Non-essential travel and mass gatherings are still prohibited. And public health officials recommend that if you do go out, wear a mask to protect yourself and others, and continue to maintain social distancing as much as possible. These efforts can help prevent a resurgence of the virus. And if all goes well in Stage 2, then perhaps we can gingerly inch toward Stage 3, leaving us to dream of the day when we have attained community immunity and can safely progress onto Stage 4.

One day at a time. One Stage at a time.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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