PLACERVILLE, Calif. – Governor Gavin Newsom has now given more than a dozen Northern California counties the greenlight to begin reopening key parts of the economy.
El Dorado County, located northeast of Sacramento, was one of the first counties given the OK to move further into Phase 2, which allows dine-in restaurants and shopping centers to reopen.
The county is home to approximately 185,000 residents and has had no COVID-19 deaths.
Counties that were given the state’s approval to advance in opening more sectors of the economy had to meet certain benchmarks like having no coronavirus deaths in the past 14 days, meet minimum testing capacity, and having 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents.
“Being proactive paid off, and we’re going to keep continuing to push on that proactive mode and try to get into Phase 3 as soon as we can,” said El Dorado County Board Supervisors Chairman, Brian Veerkamp.
Phase 3 includes the reopening of gyms, salons, and barbershops. Longtime El Dorado County resident, Harold Hughes, says he can’t wait for the approval of Governor Newsom to advance to the next phase.
“I’ll go get a haircut, I need it really badly,” Hughes said as he sat down to have breakfast at his favorite restaurant in Placerville.
Sweetie Pie’s remained open for take-out during the shelter in place order. On Wednesday, the restaurant welcomed its customers back for dine-in service for the first time in nearly two months.
“I’m sick and tired of staying home,” Hughes said while smiling. He added he was also sick of having instant oatmeal at home and was glad to be able to see the staff at Sweetie Pie’s.
The restaurant’s manager, Pilar Cortes, said she was glued to her phone every day at noon waiting for the governor to give the OK to reopen.
“I had to read all the rules,” Cortes explained. “I had to focus on what the health department said and that’s my main challenge: follow the rules of what the state and county ask.”
In order to reopen, Cortes had to implement several safety measures, such as disposable menus, separating tables six feet apart from each other, adding several sanitizing stations throughout the restaurant, and requiring employees to wear latex gloves when serving customers.
“I think they’re going to get used to it and they’re going to be more precautious,” added Cortes. “More than anything, we have to educate ourselves and educate our customers.”
As for face coverings, customers are not required to wear one under the state’s new guidelines, but they are highly encouraged to put one on when they’re not eating or drinking.
However, face coverings are required for all employees who must be within six feet of customers.
When asked about concerns regarding people from other counties coming to frequent local businesses, Supervisor Veerkamp said he believes everyone will use common sense.
“We’ve been in this long enough now that the people will protect themselves, as well as be cognizant of their fellow person,” Veerkamp said.