Last night, the County of Ventura received approval from the California Department of Public Health to move forward on an accelerated Stage 2 path to reopening. Ventura County is the first County in Southern California to receive this approval, and is also the largest County to receive approval. This means that dine-in restaurants and in-store retail can open as soon as they register at vcreopens.com. Guidance, checklists, and prevention plans are available at vcreopens.com as well. The County has announced that they will be releasing an updated Stay Well VC Public Health Order today, but dine-in and in-store shopping will be permitted beginning today, May 21.

In Ojai, the City’s economic recovery task force, working with the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce, has developed a simplified checklist of requirements to ensure these businesses are sanitizing appropriately, requiring face coverings, and taking other necessary measures. The City’s task force is investigating additional measures to help restaurants and businesses promote social distancing and allow residents to support businesses safely. For example, today the City enacted an executive order which allows restaurants to expand their outdoor seating to promote social distancing. If you are a business and are interested in expanding your outdoor seating, please contact the City’s Community Development Department, at 805-646-5581, extension 112.

Although these are positive steps, please remember to continue to exercise caution. Although we have flattened the curve, coronavirus has not gone away. There were 21 new cases reported yesterday, bringing the total up to 858 total cases in Ventura County. 28 people are currently hospitalized, with 13 currently in the ICU. There has sadly been 29 deaths. The County has announced expanded testing, which will allow you to be tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or close contact with a person diagnosed. Drive through testing centers are now available at Ventura College, Moorpark College and in Santa Paula. For more information, please visit the Ventura County Health Care Agency website, at vchca.org.

The Public Health Order allows tennis courts, pickleball courts, and parks to be open, with social distancing protocols in place. Here in Ojai, we have opened these facilities with these protocols in place. However, shared amenities, such as playgrounds and the skate park are still closed under the order to prevent the spread of disease. Restrooms at parks remain open. The City has increased the level of sanitization and trash pick up to help prevent the spread of disease. If you are visiting a park, consider bringing your own water and hand sanitizer if possible. The City will continue to limit traffic on North Signal Street to reduce crowding on Shelf Trail, and some additional procedures remain in place at the Farmer’s Market.

Last, please remember that here in Ojai, we are still requiring face coverings at essential businesses. If you are going shopping, please remember to wear a face covering. We appreciate your help!

Director of Emergency Services Executive Order No. 20-05