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SLO County can open restaurants and retail 

Restaurants and retail stores throughout San Luis Obispo County will be allowed to reopen their brick-and-mortar doors to customers in the coming days after the state approved a SLO County attestation of readiness for COVID-19 on May 20.

With the approval, SLO County joins a majority of California counties that have earned permission to move deeper into Phase 2 of the state's Resiliency Roadmap for reopening the economy.

SLO County initially fell short of meeting the state's attestation criteria, but on May 18 Gov. Gavin Newsom revised the criteria to allow counties with slightly higher case counts per 100,000 residents to move forward.

County officials learned of the state's approval around noon on May 20. More details, logistics, and process-related information will be available in the coming days, said Michelle Shoresmen, a SLO County public information officer.

"There are still criteria that have to be met by a business before they can actually open, so those are the logistics we're figuring out," Shoresmen told New Times on May 20.

click to enlarge REOPEN SLO County restaurants and retail stores are preparing to reopen for indoor service. - FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • REOPEN SLO County restaurants and retail stores are preparing to reopen for indoor service.

The state has issued guidelines that dictate how various business sectors must operate after opening. They cover social distancing, sanitation, and employee training/protections, among other areas. According to the guidelines, bars, breweries, wineries, and distilleries may only open if they also offer sit-down, dine-in meals. All restaurants are asked to encourage takeout and delivery whenever possible.

Restaurant and store owners are approaching the reopening in their own ways. For Big Sky Cafe in downtown SLO, takeout and delivery may continue to be diners' only options for the time being. Owner Greg Holt told New Times that his restaurant has adjusted to the curbside/delivery model, and that adhering to the state's dining-in requirements will be challenging and would mean eliminating more than two-thirds of his indoor tables. Nonetheless, he's preparing for it; it just might take some time.

"I wasn't ready for it to happen so soon," Holt said. "If I can reopen June 1, I don't know if I'll be ready."

Businesses and activities that remain closed, and are part of future phases, include personal services, like hair salons, gyms, entertainment venues, public pools and playgrounds, religious services, nightclubs, and lodging for leisure and tourism.

As of May 20, SLO County had 249 COVID-19 cases, with one death, three active hospitalizations, and two ICU patients. Close to 90 percent of all patients have fully recovered. Between April 13 and May 20, labs processed 7,766 local COVID-19 tests. Δ

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