Ventura County moves toward a phased reopening of some businesses by week's end

Priscella Vega
Visitors practice social distancing at the beach in Ventura.  (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Ventura County is gearing up to allow some of its businesses to open by the end of the week after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his latest plans for easing stay-at-home restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses such as bookstores, clothing stores, florists and sporting goods stores will be eligible to open for curbside pickup, according to County Executive Officer Michael Powers. Associated manufacturers and supply chains for these retail stores will also be allowed to open.

The county is expected to receive more guidance from the governor’s office before Friday on how such openings should be handled.

“Social distancing will stay with us for a while,” said Rigoberto Vargas, the county’s public health director, during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Vargas told the board that health officials are proceeding with optimism and caution, and that they’ll monitor the opening in case they need to reinstate stay-at-home measures.

Powers, board members and county Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin commended residents for abiding by state and county rules, even with restricted access to beaches.

Levin reflected back to 10 weeks ago, when the pandemic started to have an impact on everyday life and when he first estimated that there would be 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the county. His estimate later dropped to 250. As of Tuesday, the county had reported 19 coronavirus-related deaths.

"It's so easy to forget what you prevented by your actions," he said.

As of Tuesday, Ventura County had reported a total of 595 COVID-19 cases. The county also reported 22 current hospitalizations, with 11 patients under intensive care. There have been 416 recovered cases.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Ventura County Fair, an annual summertime event that attracts nearly 300,000 attendees per year.