California approves Ventura County for accelerated reopening

Ventura County on Wednesday became the first Southern California county to receive approval from the California Department of Public Health to move forward on an accelerated path to reopening.

Dine-in and in-store shopping will be permitted effective Thursday, May 21, 2020.

On the accelerated path, the county's restaurants can begin offering dine-in options and all retail businesses with exterior facing entrances are permitted to have customers inside of their stores.

Ventura County joins seven Nothern California counties, including Shasta and El Dorado, on the list of counties approved to reopen.  

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“I'm so happy for our county, businesses and employees. A long way to go, but this is a major milestone. The attestation reflects a validation of our collective community and County efforts to protect our community’s health and to support our local businesses,” said Mike Powers, County CEO. “COVID-19 has had devasting impacts on both community health and our economy. We want businesses to be able to reopen and we believe they can and will do so safely.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom has allowed counties that apply and qualify for a variance to move further along into Stage 2 with seated dining.

To qualify for the variance, counties must prove that hospitalization and test positivity rates are stable or declining, that they have a significant level of preparedness with testing, contact tracing, PPE and hospital surge, and that they have adequate plans related to county-wide containment. 

Criteria also includes the rate of positive COVID-19 patients hospitalized cannot be greater than 5% in the last 7 days. The County of Ventura is at -3.4% in the past 7 days. Also, positive test results for the last 14 days can be no greater than 8% and our local number is 3.5%. 

“This is another big step on our path to reopening. We appreciate this opportunity for our local businesses, and we hope that our community members can continue to follow the public health guidance so we can continue to reopen,” said Powers. 

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information

“We want our community to reopen safely. Community members and businesses must continue to practice social distancing to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure. This will help keep our numbers low so we can continue to move forward in reopening businesses throughout our County,” said Public Health Officer Doctor Robert Levin.

Restaurants and retail must register at www.vcreopens.com and follow the guidance.

COVID-19 Industry Guidance

Shopping malls, destination shopping centers, strip and outlet malls all with exterior facing entrances are permitted to open: https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-shopping-centers.pdf

Dine-in restaurants: https://covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-dine-in-restaurants.pdf

FOX 11's Kelli Johnson contributed to this report.