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Legoland Jim Desmond
Supervisor Jim Desmond speaks during a press conference on August 28 at Legoland in Carlsbad. Courtesy photo
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North County elected officials call for more equitable plan for businesses

REGION — Every job is essential.

It’s the message of Supervisor Jim Desmond and mayors of Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido and Legoland California Resort President Kurt Stocks during a press conference Aug. 28 urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow more businesses to open.

After the press conference, Newsom released a new set of criteria for counties to meet regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Desmond said he was disappointed the governor is changing the requirements and said the state should pivot its regulations through non-essential and essential businesses and industry sectors, to a more inclusive policy.

The “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” according to Newsom, is based on a county’s case and positivity rates. Widespread (purple) is more than seven cases per 100,000 residents per day; red (substantial) is four to seven cases per 100,000; moderate (orange) is one to 3.9, and yellow (minimal) is under one per day.

San Diego County is currently in a substantial category.

“Here we are six months into the COVID virus and now we got a new set of criteria to meet,” Desmond said. “Just last week we got off the watchlist. It just seems like we’re kicking the can down the road again. It didn’t give us any local control and it’s still being controlled by the governor’s office.”

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said the new criteria appear arbitrary with a lack of standards. Additionally, he said the previous policy, along with the new one, picks winners and losers, thus hurting business owners and put in jeopardy their livelihoods and those of their employees.

Hall said it is difficult to explain to those who’ve not owned a business of all the nuances, costs and struggles to maintain a business. As a businessman himself, Hall said many feel a connection to their employees and families, thus reopening safely and following protocols should not be based on a sector and everyone should be treated the same.

Hall said the city has 20,000 workers in the leisure sector and those people need to work to meet their financial responsibilities.

“I think it shows how united we are on the 78 corridor,” Hall said. “From the very beginning, it’s always been a challenge for us as to what businesses should and shouldn’t be open. Some businesses do need to have priority … but if you’re going to allow businesses to open with standards, then why wouldn’t those standards be applied to all businesses?”

Desmond, meanwhile, said Legoland California is the only Legoland in the world not currently open. He said theme parks are still currently prohibited from opening, although places such as Sea World and the San Diego Zoo are open with limited capacity.

Desmond said Legoland, as with any other business, should be allowed to reopen as long as the proper health and safety protocols are followed. But since so many businesses fall under the classification due to industry sectors, frustration is raging, and some business owners are going rogue to recoup lost business.

“The governor’s new orders don’t allow (Legoland) to open,” Desmond said. “We were talking about how they should be able to open. A good portion of the resort is outdoors. They take temperatures and follow protocols.”

The park employs nearly 3,000 people in San Diego County and is one of the largest employers in North County, according to wire reports.

“Legoland is ready and eager to open once the state and county guidelines are given,” said Kurt Stocks, Legoland California resort president. “All health and safety guidelines that have been approved for other San Diego attractions can easily be observed at our park and our measures go above and beyond to keep our guests and employees safe.”