One week after threatening to withhold coronavirus aid from Tulare County, the Newsom administration announced the south Valley county can engage in expedited reopening.
The state approval enables Tulare County restaurants with liquor licenses, hair salons, and barbershops the ability to reopen without jeopardizing their license status with California Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Department of Consumer Affairs, respectively.
The move puts Tulare County on par with the other six San Joaquin Valley counties.
“We are happy to announce that we have met the metrics set forth by State Public Health officials, allowing us to move forward in the reopening of all businesses within Stage Two,” said Tulare County’s Public Health Director, Karen Elliott.
After the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 last Tuesday to advance beyond state directives in reopening, Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services responded with a threat to withhold coronavirus disaster and relief funding.
“The county’s actions could threaten Tulare County’s eligibility for disaster funding,” the letter read. “This funding is designed to assist jurisdictions facing extraordinary circumstances beyond the jurisdiction’s capability.”
On Wednesday, Tulare County Supervisors celebrated the approval of the county’s variance plan for rapid reopening.
“First of all, I am very happy that the county metrics came down – meaning that fewer people are testing positive for the virus,” Supervisor Dennis Townsend told The Sun. “Second, I’m very pleased that the governor’s office has accepted our attestation for acceleration. This very nearly brings the state up to the point we voted to be about a week ago.
“I am extremely happy for the businesses which have been languishing for the past two-and-a-half months without income, and hope and pray they will recover now that they can begin to reopen.”
Supervisors Pete Vander Poel and Kuyler Crocker echoed Townsend’s sentiments.
“I appreciate and am grateful for the effort that Tulare County has put into the reopening of our County,” Vander Poel said in a statement to The Sun. “I know the pain and difficulty that businesses and residents have been enduring. The ultimate goal is to move Tulare County forward and the posting of our plan and attestation does just that!”
“I’m glad the state agrees with what we have been saying,” Crocker said. “We need to learn how to live with this virus and continue to do business.”
Daniel Gligich and Alex Tavlian contributed to this report.