Coronavirus: Santa Cruz Co. beaches reopen; Bay Area health officials discuss lifting shelter-in-place guidelines

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Health officers from across the Bay Area are working together to determine which jobs and activities may be allowed to resume when the current shelter-in-place guidelines expire across the region on May 3.

Santa Cruz County Public Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said during a weekly briefing on Thursday that certain low-risk outdoor activities and businesses where social distancing is easily maintained may be able to resume operation soon.

Newel pointed to outdoor activities life golfing and businesses like landscaping or outdoor construction as examples of the aspects of life that could be the first to return.

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"There's talk about other small businesses, if social distancing can be maintained, perhaps resuming preventive health care and dental care, perhaps day camps for children this summer as the school year ends," said Dr. Newel.

The health officer said that she is meeting virtually with a number of health officers from across the Bay Area multiple times a week to coordinate the regions response in easing restrictions much like they collaborated in enacting the shelter-in-place guidelines in the first place.

"I think if you use your imagination around what could be accomplished while still maintaining social distancing requirements you could imagine what would be allowed to open," said Dr. Newel.

There are still questions as to where this leaves businesses like bars and restaurants.



She also stressed as more businesses return to work childcare will be an even greater challenge with school closed and many traditional summer childcare options like day camps also shuttered.

"I'm working locally with parks and recs and other entities to help guide them on what could be developed using the current child care guidance that's in place on the current shelter in place and extending that into K-12 population into day camps for the summer," she said.

As of Thursday, April 16, parks and beaches are back open in Santa Cruz County with the expectation that social distance be maintained. Visitors from other areas are still being discouraged.

Santa Cruz County beaches and parks were temporarily closed in the days leading up to, and thru, the Easter holiday to discourage large crowds from gathering.

Dr. Newel also announced the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will remained closed thru the summer and there won't be any mass gatherings for a "long time to come."

There are currently 98 known cases of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County with two deaths reported. 17 people have been hospitalized and 41 people have now recovered, according to county health officials.

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