As the region fights to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Encinitas is ramping up its containment efforts by following regional suggestions and closing open spaces like beaches, playgrounds and trails.
As of March 24, there were seven positive COVID-19 cases in Encinitas.
“The City of Encinitas is trying to do everything we can to slow the spread and we’re doing our part with closing beaches, playgrounds, any place where people are gathering,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said Tuesday. “I think it’s really important that we all work together and internalize the message that we need to take as few trips and gather with as few people as possible. The stay at home order is undermined when we go out and gather together.”
After speaking with the Community Resource Center (CRC) on Tuesday, the mayor said the city is providing more funding to the nonprofit organization to help rent hotel rooms for people who are vulnerable to the virus but asymptomatic.
“There are people who would be vulnerable because they are sleeping outside or they’re in overcrowded situations and they should be in a hotel,” she said. “We’ve placed about 30 more people into hotel rooms.”
Blakespear said people can reach out to the CRC at (760) 753-1156 to inquire about securing a hotel room.
Additionally, vulnerable and homeless residents experiencing symptoms should call 211, a county resource and information hub that connects people with community, health and disaster services.
Blakespear has been busy working with business owners and tenants regarding the closures of bars, restaurants and small businesses in the city. She said it’s important that tenants of small businesses are in contact with their landlords and are clear about what their circumstances are. And they should also realize that landlords have mortgages and bills they have to pay, as well.
“I don’t want to minimize the severity of the economic impact,” Blakespear said. “The idea is that we have to share the pain, nobody will take the full economic responsibility for it, and we’ll try to do everything we can to come through this.”
Sherry Yardley, Acting CEO for the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, said the lockdown on non-essential businesses, such as the retail industry, the health and beauty industries, and services like tailoring, printing, and entertainment, is causing a get hardship to many in the community.
“Our small businesses are the ones who are taking the brunt of this blast,” Yardley said. “(They) are concerned for the overall health of their business. They are wondering if they’ll be able to recover once this crisis is over.”
Yardley said many small business owners are wondering what kind of relief the local and federal government might provide during and after the crisis ends.
“Some are worried that they are going to lose everything they have worked so hard for,” she said. “This is very disheartening as several have spent many years building up their businesses only to face the fact that they might have to close their doors permanently.”
Yardley said the community can help support businesses by ordering takeout and delivery from restaurants, buying gift cards, shopping local online, pre-scheduling future appointments, and donating to the small local non-profits whose fundraisers have been canceled.
Residents can also reach out to their favorite local businesses to help provide its services while practicing social distancing, such as assisting with doorstep deliveries. Yardley said anyone can contact businesses that don’t have an online presence and see if they can order something directly from them or set up future services, ensuring that when the lockdown lifts appointments will be on their books.
“We will get through this challenging time as a community working together and supporting each other,” Yardley said.
Blakespear agrees that despite the current conditions, the city and its residents will get through. She’s enjoyed seeing instances of people lending a hand, be it people shopping for seniors, donating essential items, such as toilet paper, or opening their homes to somebody who needs a place to stay.
And the mayor is leading by example, as her own family opened their home to a musician friend, a cellist who recently had nine months of touring dates canceled.
“We are a resilient community and it’s heartening to see how many people come forward to want to help others in this time of need,” she said.