REGION — A coalition of North County elected officials discussed the creation of a multi-phase plan by May 1 to address reopening non-essential businesses and recreational activities.
Supervisor Jim Desmond, along with mayors Matt Hall (Carlsbad), Peter Weiss (Oceanside), Rebecca Jones (San Marcos), Julie Ritter (Vista) and Paul McNamara (Escondido) held a virtual press conference on April 28 to discuss slowly rebuilding their economies and helping residents get back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Desmond said the state is seeing encouraging results in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, noting that while the number of positive cases has grown due to increased testing, treating the virus remains manageable.
“The best-case scenario is the governor allows more local control to open up local businesses,” Desmond said. “The next board meeting is May 5. I think we need a date to have plans in place so they can ramp up. I’ve only asked to have a plan in place.”
By the end of this week, Desmond said his goal is to have a plan ready when, and if, Newsom eases statewide health orders.
While Oceanside reopened its beaches on April 27, boating is still prohibited. Weiss said allowing boating is a critical first step before the city opens other recreation spots, such as parks and trails.
Encinitas is the only other North County city to have reopened its beaches. Carlsbad will hold a special City Council meeting on May 1 to readdress its one-mile stretch of beach.
Solana Beach, according to its website, is preparing a May 4 opening for its beaches.
Each mayor gave some examples of industries, specific to their cities, that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 — tourism, hotels and recreation in Carlsbad; breweries in Vista; restaurants in San Marcos; and lower-wage workers in Escondido.
They all agreed on reasonable approaches in line with protocols from healthcare professionals are a must. But, they all championed those protocols be applied to non-essential businesses.
Desmond and McNamara said Escondido is a blue-collar city and its workers are struggling mightily.
“We want to maintain the proper procedures and social distancing the essential workers are using now,” McNamara said. “A lot of people are not getting paychecks and they are wondering where the money is going to come from to get the essentials. We really need to get these people back to work. Sooner is better than later. We want guidance from the county health professionals, but we can’t wait forever.”
Jones said opening up leisure activities is important for people to ease stress and be mentally healthy. Additionally, she also conveyed stories about San Marcos’ once-thriving restaurant scene and how 220 of them, along with 3,600 workers, have been left without a steady income stream.
“We want people to remain active and it’s important to their total well-being,” Jones added. “We need people to respect social distancing. We need balanced decisions and get people back to work. We need to crawl, move forward and take small steps.”
Hall said the reopening of non-essential businesses will take time, therefore a detailed plan to do so is important to allow lead time for businesses to get back on their feet.
Hall said the county and cities must become proactive instead of reactive. He admitted it is likely the virus will re-emerge in the fall but is confident with the lessons learned and protocols already established, residents and governments will be much more prepared.
As for the businesses, though, he said people must be allowed to come back if they so choose. If so, plans must be in place.
“We’re not here to pick and choose business — it’s more about the procedures,” Hall said. “We have to give everyone the opportunity to follow those procedures. It takes time to get the business back, the employees back. We need to give people lead time for a good opening.”