SAN DIEGO (CNS) — New businesses and public spaces all over San Diego County can reopen Friday as public health officials cast a wary eye toward the chance of a second coronavirus wave.
The reopenings include indoor movie theaters, bars, zoos, community swimming pools and hotels. The “heart” of Balboa Park’s many offerings will also reopen, staff said.
While voicing excitement both for residents and the many business owners and employees rejoicing over reopening, Mayor Kevin Faulconer urged San Diegans to carefully follow health and safety guidelines. If residents and businesses don’t, the mayor said a second wave of virus cases could force the city to close back up.
“The next steps after this depend not on government. They will depend on each of us,” Faulconer said. “This next phase of reopening is all about personal responsibility and accountability. Do not take unnecessary risks that could put others in harm’s way.”
County health officials reported 161 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths due to the illness on Thursday, raising county totals to 8,998 cases and 308 deaths.
The three deaths were men ranging in age from their late 40s to mid- 80s and two had underlying medical conditions.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said that 292 of 308 people who have died from COVID-19 had underlying medical conditions.
County Supervisor Greg Cox said movie theaters will follow similar occupancy rules to churches, with a maximum of 25% of the room’s capacity or 100 customers, or whihever is lowest, and typical sanitizing and facial coverings required while in line.
However, not every business able to open Friday necessarily will, Cox said, referencing the San Diego Zoo’s announced June 20 reopening date. The USS Midway Museum announced Thursday it would hold off on reopening until July 1.
“The dangers of COVID-19 are as real today as they were in March,” county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday.
He cited ballooning hospitalization rates in Orange and Ventura counties and a continued crisis in Los Angeles County in saying that while San Diego County has avoided the worst of the pandemic so far, caution must be exercised to avoid a second wave.
Last week, Fletcher identified 13 “triggers” that could cause the county to take industry-specific actions, pause all reopening efforts or even dial back reopenings. These triggers are divided into three categories: epidemiology and public health, with four triggers each — and health care, with five.
The county is still “green” on all 13 triggers, but numbers from Memorial Day, subsequent reopenings of restaurants and mass protests have not yet arrived and could show a significant uptick, officials said.