County officials continue to advocate for local control, await more details from State

Following the State’s recent announcement that California may soon move to an “early Stage 2” of reopening, County of San Luis Obispo officials stressed today that this move would not authorize the County to implement its START Guide to phased reopening.

The County cannot implement this framework until three things happen: (1) the State lifts or modifies its Shelter at Home order, (2) the State allows for local control, and (3) the County issues another executive order moving to Phase 1. 

Local officials say the State has not afforded local control, even with its announcement for “regional variation” to reopening on Friday.

“It’s unclear whether the State will give us the latitude to move forward in our own measured way with the approach outlined in our START Guide,” said County Public Health Officer, Dr. Penny Borenstein. “This is very disappointing because our community is ready to move forward. We continue to advocate and plan for local control and will revise our START Guide, as promised.”

The State announced Monday that it plans to issue a new Executive Order on Friday allowing retail businesses to soon open only with curbside pickup and delivery (no in-store shopping). It’s unclear if SLO County will be allowed to do anything beyond that on Friday, County officials say. 

In the meantime, County officials are developing a new parallel executive order even as officials work to understand the State’s approach to reopening and advocate for local control.

“We had hoped we could enter our START Guide’s Phase 1 to allow for more openings, namely faith-based services, salons, and parts of our gyms, but we can’t do that yet,” Borenstein said. “We will continue to reconcile our Executive Order with the State’s proposed plan and actions as more details become available.”

The START Guide released last week represents the County’s desired approach for reopening, but the State’s plan and actions supersede local desires.

“We appreciate the State’s efforts to move toward reopening, but we would like authorization to move forward with our approach as outlined in the START Guide,” said County Administrative Officer and Emergency Services Director Wade Horton.

On Monday, the County announcedan intention to move as quickly as possible toward Phase One of the SLO County START Guide, but in order to so needs authorization from the State upon submitting a “readiness plan.” As of Monday, the details the State required in a readiness plan were not available to the County.

For updated information about COVID-19 for the North SLO County, see our dedicated page.

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