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BREAKING NEWS: State OKs Ventura County request for accelerated reopening

Ventura County got approval from the state on Wednesday to move forward on an accelerated Stage 2 path to reopening — one day after the county Public Health officer declared the county had met the state’s benchmarks to do so.
The Public Health Officer modified the Stay Well VC Order the same day, so dine-in and in-store shopping is permitted, effective Thursday, May 21. To read the new order and for more information on COVID-19 in Ventura County, visit www.vcemergency.com.
With this approval, Ventura County restaurants can now offer dine-in options and all retail businesses with exterior-facing entrances are permitted to have customers inside of their stores.
Specifically, shopping malls, destination shopping centers, strip and outlet malls all with exterior facing entrances are permitted to open. https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-shopping-centers.pdf Dine-In Restaurants: https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-dine-in-restaurants.pdf
“So happy for our county, businesses and employees,” said County CEO Mike Powers. A long way to go, but this is a major milestone. The attestation reflects a validation of our collective community and county efforts to protect our community’s health and to support our local businesses. COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on both community health and our economy. We want businesses to be able to reopen and we believe they can and will do so safely.”
Given increased statewide and local capacity to respond to COVID-19, including stronger preparedness, continued stability in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, as well as increased ability to provide personal protective equipment to workers in essential sectors, the state announced the new attestation opportunity for counties to move through Stage 2, opening additional sectors of their economy at their own pace. The modified state guidance was issued by the governor on May 18.
Regular Stage 2 has included curbside retail, manufacturing and supply-chain businesses. The governor has allowed counties that apply and qualify for a variance to move further along into Stage 2 with seated dining. 
The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ratify the attestation on May 19. It was submitted to the State on that same day and the state provided approval in less than 24 hours.
“We want our community to reopen safely,” said Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin in a press release Wednesday. “Community members and businesses must continue to practice social distancing to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure. This will help keep our numbers low so we can continue to move forward in reopening businesses throughout our county.”
With the easing of restrictions, “there are more opportunities for gathering," Levin said. "We have to be more responsible than we have been even before. It does not mean quarantine is over just because you’ve been allowed to go to a restaurant or a business. We have to be very responsible for ourselves and we have to be politely responsible to those around us so this continues to be a team effort in protecting all of our health.”
To qualify for the variance, counties must attest that hospitalization and test positivity rates are stable or declining; that they have a significant level of preparedness with testing, contact tracing, PPE and hospital surge; and that they have adequate plans related to countywide containment.
Criteria also include:
1) the rate of positive Covid-19 patients hospitalized cannot be greater than 5% in the last 7 days. The county of Ventura is at -3.4% in the past 7 days. 
2) Positive test results for the last 14 days can be no greater than 8% and our local number is 3.5%
“This is another big step on our path to reopening,” Powers said. “We appreciate this opportunity for our local businesses, and we hope that our community members can continue to follow the public health guidance so we can continue to reopen.”
Restaurants and retail must register at www.vcreopens.com and follow the guidance. Learn more about the California Resilience roadmap for state reopening at https://covid19.ca.gov/roadmap/.