One day later, Marin County Public Health Officer Matt Willis announced the easing of restrictions on a number of businesses that operate outdoors, including all construction projects as long as the project complies with the order's safety protocols, as well real estate transactions without open houses and limitations on in-person viewings. The list of businesses that can reopen on May 4 also includes wholesale and retail nurseries, landscapers, gardeners, and other businesses that primarily provide outdoor services as set forth in the order.
Other activities that can resume under the new order include residential moves and the use of certain shared outdoor recreational facilities that were previously ordered closed, like skate parks, but not others that involve shared equipment or physical contact. The April 17th order requiring face covering remains in effect.
Willis said that Marin has, as of April 29, 224 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 12 deaths and 43 hospitalizations.
He characterized the first phase of the SIP as “the first inning of the game. “We were successful thanks to all the amazing work and sacrifices that everyone in our community made to really limit transmission,” he told the Marin County Board of Supervisors on April 28. “Phase Two is going to be a gentle, delicate process of reopening that we can eventually regain the ability to gather for education and some business reopening.”
Willis noted the coming weeks and months will be entirely driven by the key metrics. That includes adequate testing capacity, as Marin is currently testing 300 patients a day and needs to get to 5,000 per day. That increased testing capacity will likely “see more transmission of disease,” he said.
Testing efforts will be coupled by contact tracing and monitoring hospitalizations and 911 calls related to COVIF-19, he added.
Noting that nearby jurisdictions like Sonoma County are moving toward a less restrictive SIP, Supervisor Damon Connolly asked Willis if Marin was wedded to the SIP decisions of the Bay Area jurisdictions with which it has operated so far. “The gates to move from one phase to the next will happen at a different pace for each county,” Willis said. “We don’t expect that every county will have the same experience. We’ll have the freedom to move forward more quickly but we’ll be looking to the science to guide us.”
So What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Willis said he hoped to “provide businesses with clear guidelines and on some level empowerment about how they can conduct business in a safe way and how we can open over time in a way that protects public health and yet is cognizant that people need to get back out there in their lives as well.”
County Administrator Matthew Hymel announced the launch of Marin Recovers, a website that will serve as the foundation of “a safe and phased reopening. We’re convening a group of industry advisors” on subjects that include restaurants, retail, construction, parks and outdoor activities, general office space, summer camp and youth opportunities, transportation, hotels, personal services and the arts. (The Mill Valley Chamber has submitted names of a number of local industry leaders to provide guidance on health and safety best practices for their respective industries. We're also providing industry-specific feedback to county and state leaders on what a safe, successful reopening look like for each major industry sector on Mill Valley).
“Those advisors will inform how will these industries modify their activities over time to reduce their risk to COVID-19 so that we can guide them to plan for the future months ahead.
The announcements came amidst indications from Gov. Gavin Newsom that California as a whole is "just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order. That is a very optimistic point to emphasize.”
In a series of tweets, Newsom said, "California is flattening the curve, but the reality is #COVID-19 is not going away soon. Our re-opening must be gradual, guided by public health and science, and will be done in the following: