City of Ojai’s April 3, 2020 Update Regarding Coronavirus: From City Manager James Vega and Police Chief Jose Rivera

A Video Version of this update is available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XchiE2S1n9A&feature=youtu.be

The City Council and staff at the City of Ojai and the Ojai Police Station are focused on responding to critical needs related to the Coronavirus. We wanted to take this time to tell you about some of the latest news, and actions here in Ojai related to this issue, including an update on the Farmer’s Market and Trails.

On March 31, the Public Health Officer for the County of Ventura issued an extended and updated “Stay Well at Home Order.” A copy of the order will be posted on our website. The order extends the expiration date to April 19, 2020.

There are some important items for City and Valley residents: First, the order requires more specific procedures for take-out restaurants. It requires that all food be in a suitable container. For example, it notes that ice cream cones are not allowed, but ice cream scoops in a covered container are allowed. It also requires that food be consumed away from premises, and that persons waiting in line, whether within a restaurant or outside of a restaurant, must maintain a distance of six feet from others.

The notice also requires that essential businesses now limit their activities to essential goods and services. This means that the non-essential activities of a store shall stop. This is typically seen with big box stores, where they remained completely open and sold both essential and non-essential items.

The order also orders all public and private campgrounds and RV parks to close, except for persons who certify that their RV is their primary residence. Please see the full order at Ojaicity.org.

The coronavirus and these public health orders are requiring us to reconsider several activities within the City of Ojai. Two activities that we will be modifying to increase social and physical distancing this week include the Farmer’s Market and the Hiking Trails.

Regarding the Farmer’s Market, you may have heard that the City was working with the Farmer’s Market Management to put some restrictions in place that require more social distancing, and to avoid crowds. The City has been working with the Farmer’s Market Management throughout the week. Although we worked out some issues, as you may have read in the Ojai Valley News this morning, ultimately, last night we determined that there were still crowded areas that could not be managed at the current location.

We attempted to move the Farmer’s Market to a larger location where the booths can be spread out, but both the City and the Farmer’s Market Management felt that more time would be needed to resolve these issues. We will continue to work with the Farmer’s Market to put a plan in place and seek an alternative location that addresses any social distancing issues, but at this time, the Farmer’s Market is closed.

Regarding the trails, we have been closely monitoring the hiking trails over the last couple of weeks. We did notice an uptick in traffic on North Signal Street over the last two weekends, and had concerns that the parking areas would be congested and lead to a lack of social distancing. Beginning today, to address this issue, we will be closing North Signal Street, and only allowing local traffic, on the weekends. We will place signage on the streets, and we’re also using smartphone applications to indicate the road closure. We expect that this should reduce the number of people driving out and concentrating in one area.

We do not make these decisions lightly. We know that these decisions have a real impact on residents and businesses. However, the health and safety of our community is our priority. We are in a critical period of the fight against COVID-19. By acting now, we are fighting the spread, and these sacrifices could ultimately save lives. Please continue to stay home, wash your hands, and practice social and physical distancing when performing essential tasks. We are currently working on some additional resources, such as COVID safe construction guidelines. Please continue to check ojaicity.org or vcemergency.com for the latest information and updates.