Reopening at hand
It is now legal to eat in Coastside restaurants again after the San Mateo County Health Officer changed rules to align with the state. Review file photo

San Mateo County released its revised shelter-in-place order Wednesday afternoon and is now allowing businesses like hair salons, dine-in restaurants and gyms to reopen. The change is effective immediately.

The new order, in effect immediately, comes after the county received a variance earlier this week from the state of California allowing it to reopen on an expedited timeline. Also included in reopening are casinos, bars, museums and campgrounds. Contained in the order is the requirement that each business that does reopen draft a safety plan and implement the state’s protocol for their business.

Harmonies Salon owner Joy Moore said she’ll be ready to start seeing customers this week. She said her staff has already met to discuss the checklist sent from the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, which outlines strict sanitizing and distancing procedures. Among those requirements are mask-wearing, daily temperature checks and spacing stylists and appointments apart. She said her Main Street salon is easily adaptable to social distancing — each stylist works in a separate room and her receptionist can welcome guests from their cars.

“We’re ready to go,” Moore said. “Our clients have been calling every day. My phone has been blowing up.”

Since the start of the shelter-in-place order and the closure of her salon, Moore has been selling face masks to stay afloat. She said the restrictions on walk-in appointments and caps on the number of clients that can come in at a time will have a financial impact on her business, but she’s glad to be reopening anyway. Although many residents have been faithful to her business, as hair salons started to reopen in nearby counties, she said some turned elsewhere.

Also contained in the order are the more general requirements for face coverings, mandating them in common indoor areas and during food preparation and recommending them for outdoor recreation. Social distancing is also still required.

The order also clarified that any time the state allows an additional activity, it will automatically apply to San Mateo County.

County Counsel David Silberman clarified at a press briefing Wednesday that violating the order is a misdemeanor and could lead to a fine or imprisonment, but stressed that the county is relying on residents and businesses to comply so they can remain open.

“We expect everyone to be good citizens and do what they're supposed to do,” Silberman said.

In a statement released Monday, County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow explained his reasoning for applying for the variance and implored residents to take responsibility for slowing the spread of the disease. Morrow said applying for a variance was not originally part of his plan, but after the state presented it as his only option if he wished outdoor dining to remain open, he decided to pursue it. Ultimately, Morrow said, his intent remains to be as closely aligned with the state as possible.

“You all are now the most important variable in how our future will develop,” Morrow wrote. “Follow the key behaviors well, including extensive use of facial coverings, and that will bode well for all of us. Don’t, and our future will be dim. As to a second wave in August, the existence of such a wave and its severity is entirely up to you. I believe we can completely avoid a second wave if everyone does their part.”

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