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San Diego businesses and workers provide reopening strategy

Ready to Recover: Mayor Faulconer, Supervisor Cox and advisory group provide recommended actions for industries to prepare for safe economic reopening.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego county and city leaders unveiled a plan Monday that will allow local businesses to safely reopen and operate once state public health restrictions are lifted.

The guidelines aimed at maintaining employee and customer safety were developed by the Responsible COVID-19 Economic Reopening Advisory Group -- RECOVER -- which consists of nearly 30 local business and civic leaders from various industries.

The group's recommendations, in development since mid-April, focus on five areas -- employee health, safe worksite entry, sanitation, workplace distancing and employee training.

The announcement followed Gov. Gavin Newsom's outlining of a plan to ease California's stay-at-home order later this week, allowing some "lower- risk" retail stores to reopen with restricted operations. Further details are expected to be released this week.

The governor has not listed all retail businesses that fall under the first part of phase II but mentioned sporting good stores, toy stores, clothing stores and floral shops. 

"The projection is this year may be a better Mother’s Day than last year. We hope that it will go that way," said Douglas Garhartt, manager and designer at Genesee Florist. 

The owner of Genesee Florist said she has been on the phone with growers for Mother's Day this weekend. They are worried because cut flower wholesalers had to throw away a lot of flowers because they didn't have anyone to sell to during the pandemic. 

"We don’t know exactly what he will be able to get in this week, I placed an order with him, I can’t get this, I can’t get that," said Darlene Cardenas. 

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said if public health orders are eased for San Diego County, the RECOVER group's plan will allow local businesses to reopen responsibly.

"San Diego is ready to recover," said Faulconer, who called the plan "a strategy that helps put San Diego back to work and helps businesses get a head start on their reopening plans."

Further clarification on the county's plan is expected at Tuesday's San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting, when the board is expected to vote on a Business Safety Framework to be adopted by all businesses once the state restrictions are lifted.

Businesses will need to demonstrate they can reopen and operate within state and county public health guidelines.

County Supervisor Greg Cox said the timing of the reopening is out of county leaders' hands, but "what we can do is help make it easier for businesses to reopen safely and smartly and smoothly as soon as possible, if they have a set of guidelines to work from."

The plan includes five focus areas and a check list of corresponding actions, which have been recommended by the RECOVER Advisory Group with input from County Public Health officials. 

They include: 

·       Employee health

·       Safe worksite entry

·       Workplace distancing and conditions

·       Employee training and compliance

·       Enhanced cleaning and sanitation

In consultation with the RECOVER Advisory Group, the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will vote on a Business Safety Framework that businesses must follow to reopen once state restrictions are lifted. Every business will need to demonstrate how it can operate safely in compliance with state and county requirements.

The RECOVER Advisory Group also provided enhanced guidance specific to various industries, including:

·       Restaurants

·       Wellness and spa facilities

·       Attractions and tourism

·       Commercial real estate

·       Construction

·       Hospitality

These industry-specific strategies are in various stages of development, pending final clearance from appropriate public health agencies.

Genesee Florist said the timing to reopen with modifications couldn't have been better and hopes they will flourish. 

"This is our chance. This is what gets through the slow season which is summer," said Garhartt. 

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