Barbershops and hair salons in San Luis Obispo County were allowed to reopen last week under a new ranking system Gov. Gavin Newsome issued in the continuing coronavirus pandemic response.

“We needed a clearer path forward and this new framework offers that,” Dr. Penny Borenstein, SLO County Public Health Officer said. “According to the State’s new framework, hair salons and barbershops across the state may open indoors with modifications, as early as Monday [Aug. 31]. Owners and staff should prepare to adhere to the State’s COVID-19 guidance.”

Gov. Newsome released the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” plan, his latest attempt to manage public health and safety with an economy that’s all but collapsed since the State shut down non-essential businesses on March 20.

The Blueprint is a color-coded, tiered “framework for reducing COVID-19” the disease caused by the coronavirus. It’s intended to “adjusting sector activities to keep Californians healthy and safe,” reads a news release from County Health.
The Blueprint’s four tiers indicate a particular risk level, they are:
Purple (widespread) — Many non-essential indoor business operations are closed;
Red (substantial) — Some non-essential indoor business operations are closed;
Orange (moderate) — Some indoor business operations are open with modifications; and,
Yellow (minimal) — Most indoor business operations are open with modifications.
San Luis Obispo County falls under the Purple (widespread) risk level., despite having just 14 people currently hospitalized with four in the ICU.

“This framework lays out the measures that each county must meet,” the Health Department said, “based on indicators that capture disease burden, testing, and health equity. A county may be more restrictive than this framework.

“This framework replaces the current County Data Monitoring List. Movement across the tiers is based on COVID-19 metrics such as new cases and positive test rates.”

Guidance on Child Care

The Community Action partnership of SLO County (CAPSLO), which provides childcare in the county, the Child Care Resource Connection, SLO County and the Child Care Planning Council of SLO County have come up with guidelines for local child care providers and parents.

“We recognize that child care is essential to the sustainability of our county,” reads a flyer announcing the guidelines. “Guidelines are provided to support child care programs operating as safely as possible and are based on the best available data at this time, and the practical realities of managing a child care program. As new data and practices emerge, the guidance will be updated.”

The guidelines include: workers wearing face coverings or face shields at all times and never put face coverings on babies or kids under-2 because of danger of suffocation.

Kids over 2 should be encouraged to wear face coverings. The SLO Child Care Planning Council and Quality Counts will have face coverings available for adults and children for child care programs.

The guidelines follow Gov. Newsome’s executive order that recommended no singing “due to data that showed increased transmission of COVID-19 in choral settings.”

The County Health Department recognizes that music and singing are “a ctitical part of child development. Child care settings can be flexible to support developmentally appropriate practices through singing with face coverings, lip syncing, listening to recorded music, and, dance and movement.

The guidelines also discuss outdoor learning. “Children benefit form spending more time outdoors, especially in natural places.” Quality Counts has workshops, training and coaching about outdoor classrooms.

The guidelines call for children to continue in groups “as small as possible to reduce exposure,” read the guidelines. It recommends keeping people staff and children in the same groups and putting family members together “to the greatest extent possible.”

Parents and child care providers can get more information online at www.capslo.org/child-care-resource-connection, www.sanluischildcare.org, www.cdss.gov/inforesources/community-case-licensing (State Social Services); and from the County Health Department at: www.covid19.ca.gov.

Eviction/Foreclosure Protections

Gov. Newsom has moved to protect tenants from evictions and property owners from foreclosure due to COVID-19 response.

According to an Aug. 31 news release, Gov. Newsome signed legislation “to protect millions of tenants from eviction and property owners from foreclosure due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. These protections apply to tenants who declare an inability to pay all or part of the rent due to a COVID-related reason.”

The law, Assembly Bill 3088 means “no tenant can be evicted before Feb. 1, 2021 as a result of rent owed due to a COVID-19 related hardship accrued between March 4 — Aug. 31, 2020, if the tenant provides a declaration of hardship according to the legislation’s timelines. For a COVID-19 related hardship that accrues between Sept. 1, 2020 — Jan. 31, 2021, tenants must also pay at least 25 percent of the rent due to avoid eviction.”
““COVID-19,” Gov. Newsome said, “has impacted everyone in California but some bear much more of the burden than others, especially tenants struggling to stitch together the monthly rent, and they deserve protection from eviction. This new law protects tenants from eviction for non-payment of rent and helps keep homeowners out of foreclosure as a result of economic hardship caused by this terrible pandemic.”

Protections Not a Free Pass

Readers shouldn’t think this law gives anyone a free pass. “Tenants are still responsible for paying unpaid amounts to landlords, but those unpaid amounts cannot be the basis for an eviction.

“Landlords may begin to recover this debt on March 1, 2021, and small claims court jurisdiction is temporarily expanded to allow landlords to recover these amounts. Landlords who do not follow the court evictions process will face increased penalties under the Act.”

AB 3088 also extended anti-foreclosure protections from the “Homeowner Bill of Rights,” to small landlords. It also provides new accountability and transparency provisions to protect small landlord borrowers who request CARES-compliant forbearance; and provides the borrower who is harmed by a material violation with a cause of action.”

More County Testing Sites

The County Public Health Department has opened two new, pop-up, free, COVID-19 testing sites, one in Morro Bay and the other Arroyo Grande.

A clinic at the Morro Bay Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf St., will be open by appointment from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays through Sept. 18. The Arroyo Grande clinic is at the South County Regional Center, 800 W. Branch St., and open the same hours and days.

Testing is evolving in SLO County. “Test results are coming back faster and there are many more appointments opportunities available than before,” Dr. Borenstein said. “If you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past week, make an appointment to get tested. As you await your test results, keep your community safe by staying home.”

The County also has a testing clinic at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Memorial Building, 801 Grand Ave. But testing clinics in Grover Beach and Nipomo are being closed “due to low turnout.”

Like the pandemic response, the symptoms indicating the virus have expanded. Now, the health department lists symptoms as: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, loss of sense of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

People exposed to the virus typically see symptoms appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

The County contracted with OptumServe to do the testing by appointment only. There is no co-pay, but medical insurance will be billed and there is no charge for people without medical insurance.

Make an appointment online at: EmergencySLO.org/testing.