RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) – Riverside city and county officials held a news conference Monday asking California Gov. Gavin Newsom for permission to begin to reopen local businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, Corona Mayor Jim Steiner and Riverside County supervisors Kevin Jeffries and Karen Spiegel held a news conference along with business leaders in an effort to “demonstrate” that the region is ready to move into the second phase of the governor’s four-phase reopening plan, which involves reopening businesses and workplaces that are deemed low-risk because they can easily enact social distancing guidelines.
A few hours later, Newsom announced that phase two could begin Friday in specific California communities where officials there deem it is safe to proceed.
“We need to refocus our efforts and attention and resources into restarting the economy,” Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey told CBS2.
The news conference was held at Made, in the 6500 block of Magnolia Boulevard, a store which specializes in handcrafted items and furniture created locally by Riverside artisans.
“In March, we had a 54% loss in sales,” Made owner Rico Alderette told CBS2. “April, we went online so we got a little bit, but we still had an 88% loss in sales.”
Alderette argues that he can reopen his store and also keep his employees and customers healthy.
“People are going to Target and Costco and stuff like that, so we can do social distancing here, in a very similar way.
Bailey agrees, saying that business owners can make the necessary changes to operate safely.
“Businesses are really savvy, they’re coming up with their own plans that is going to decrease and minimize the risk out there,” Bailey said.
Last week a Corona hair salon chose to reopen in defiance of the statewide stay at home order.
“I really, really encourage other people to do it (too),” Kira Boranian, owner of Lather Studio, told CBS2. “Let’s all stand together.”
The county, meanwhile, launched an economic recovery task force on Friday to tackle how to best reopen. Officials say the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in the region is decreasing, and hospitals are managing their patient loads.
As of Monday, there were 4,354 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Riverside County and 181 deaths. There are 217 people hospitalized with coronavirus in the county, 78 of whom are in ICU beds.
The county reported 1,982 people recovered from the illness.