Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties both received approval from the state Wednesday to reopen dine-in services at restaurants and in-store retail after pushing for the ability to move ahead in the state's COVID-19 reopening process.
On Tuesday, Santa Barbara County met the governor's requirements for moving farther into Stage 2 of the state's reopening plan, with officials awaiting approval of an attestation submitted to the state.
The good news was confirmed Wednesday evening after the county's daily press conference when the county's name was added to the list of counties approved for variance by the state.
"This ... will enable our county to move very quickly through the governor's second phase reopening process," said 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart, while still awaiting confirmation of the variance announcement.
San Luis Obispo County submitted two separate attestations before being approved midday Wednesday.
With this variance, certain restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to expand their services from delivery and pickup to in-house services.
"I am very pleased today to be able to tell you that as of noon-ish today, we, this county, have now been approved by the state, as is posted on the state’s COVID-19 website, to move forward into the full range of stage 2 on that road map," said Penny Borenstein, Public Health Officer for San Luis Obispo County.
Twenty-eight other counties had also been approved by the state as of Wednesday evening.
Restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to expand services if they can self-certify their ability to meet certain criteria, including sufficient personal protective equipment for employees and the ability to meet cleaning and sanitation requirements.
Despite these changes, Borenstein clarified that San Luis Obispo County is still not permitted to reopen establishments without table food service, such as bars, pubs or wineries, or personal care centers such as salons or barbers.
In order to restrict large numbers of tourists from other areas, both counties have reduced their hotel capacity.
Santa Barbara County confirmed three additional COVID-19 cases among county residents Wednesday, with no new cases confirmed among inmates at the federal penitentiary in Lompoc.
The total number of cases among county residents is now 549, of which 98 remain active.
A total of 971 cases have been confirmed among inmates at the Lompoc prison, with 519 cases still active.
Nine county residents and two inmates at the prison have died.
San Luis Obispo County confirmed two additional cases Wednesday for a total of 249, of which 26 remain active, with one death in the county thus far.
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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