Orange County leaders on Tuesday agreed to allow public and private golf courses to reopen amid pressure from residents to start easing restrictions and closures that have occurred due to the corona virus.
While the county did not specifically include golf courses on non-essential business listings during the pandemic, about 90% of them have limited operations according to residence orders at Governor Gavin Newsom’s home, officials said.
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow the golf course to reopen or, in some cases, remain open with certain recommendations for maintaining distance and social cleanliness, including cleaning the golf cart after each use and surprising tee times for the players. Restaurants and shops on the golf course will remain closed.
Watchdog Lisa Bartlett made a proposal after she said she spent about 10 hours on the phone over the weekend with golfers and golf course operators throughout the county who wanted to get players out on the green again.
“Time is of the essence,” Bartlett told colleagues. “We have really crazy people at home.”
Riverside County this week issued a revised public health order that allowed golf courses throughout the county to be reopened on condition.
This step was carried out amid increasing pressure from the public to alleviate the distancing social mandate. Over the past few days, there have been protests in San Diego, Huntington Beach, San Clemente and Newport Beach from people who want to see relaxed or eliminated steps.
“I think this is the right direction to go,” Supervisor Don Wagner said of the golf course proposal. “We talked about light at the end of the tunnel and found a way to reopen the county.”
Health experts say that the initial social distance in California helps the country avoid the high mortality rate in New York and lifting it too early can cause the spread of the corona virus. Newsom said Monday that he understood the frustration and anxiety expressed by the protesters, but he warned that parts of the world that had loosened coronavirus restrictions prematurely were quickly hit with a second wave of viruses.
“If we will eventually return economically, the worst mistake we can make is to make hasty decisions based on politics and frustration that put people’s lives in danger and ultimately reduce the causes of economic growth and economic recovery,” Newsom said. .
Leaders in Orange County, along with officials throughout California, have expressed a desire to start taking initial steps to reopen their communities and revive the local economy.
Wagner and Chair Michelle Steel formed an ad hoc committee this month consisting of a doctor and nine business leaders who would advise the county on how to help businesses recover from the economic collapse caused by the pandemic.
District public health officials warn that while state orders will eventually be relaxed, Orange County will have local orders maintaining certain restrictions, perhaps for months.
“We will change our normalcy,” said Public Health Officer Nichole Quick. “The last thing we want to do is open the flood door and see the number of our cases begin to rise again without control.”
On Tuesday, the local government reported 29 additional coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases to 1,691. So far, the county has seen 33 deaths related to the corona virus.
The board on Tuesday also chose to reinforce the area’s previous recommendations regarding face coverings for important employees. The new briefing mandate faces closures, such as bandanas or pieces of cloth, for employees who work in grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores and other important retail outlets.
The district had previously suggested that employees and the public wear their nose and mouth caps when in public, but stop mandate.
Wagner criticized the move, questioning whether the council was consistent in sending its message to the public.
“I feel like we got a whipsaw here,” he said. “We have a committee that discusses the opening [the county] and lifting boundaries. Now we say ‘Okay, okay, by the way, let’s see what we did last week and push the restrictions.’
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