Tulare Co. shuns Newsom, votes to reopen businesses

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors sent two messages in one on Tuesday: Tulare County is open for business and we’re done listening to Gov. Newsom.

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors sent two messages in one on Tuesday.

The first: Tulare County is open for business. The second: we’re done listening to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.


In a 3-2 vote, the board decided that the county will no longer enforce the state’s shelter-in-place order.

Supervisors Kuyler Crocker, Pete Vander Poel and Dennis Townsend voted in favor of halting enforcement, and supervisors Amy Shuklian and Eddie Valero voted against it.

Crocker told The Sun that the specific details are still being worked out, but the county will not enforce Governor Gavin Newsom’s order through Phase 2 and Phase 3.

“The action that we took was to essentially say, ‘We’re not enforcing anything. Formalize that,’” Crocker said.

The move comes one day after Newsom noted that Tulare County was one of five California counties unlikely to rapidly enter latter stages of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, which included dine-in restaurant reopenings and relaxed restrictions on in-person retail.

“It’s not surprising but there are concerns: As an example, in Tulare County, the skilled nursing facilities. In Kings County, related to meatpacking issues that we’re still addressing,” Newsom said. “I want to reinforce that just because we’re creating capacity and the availability to move into phase two doesn’t mean every county is ready.”

Tulare County’s Tuesday vote to reopen also follows its neighbor, Kings County, which took similar action last Friday.

Crocker noted that Tulare County is not encouraging Phase 4 events, which involves large gatherings like crowds at sporting events and concerts.

Any business included in Newsom’s Phase 2 or Phase 3 of reopening, including restaurants and salons, are allowed to open.

The point of the vote, Crocker said, was to allow businesses to make their own decisions. If a business wants to reopen, the county will not stand in its way.

A key caveat to that business autonomy are businesses licensed by the state, including barbershops, hair and nail salons, may face consequences from their licensing agencies for reopening their businesses before authorized by the California Department of Public Health.

Crocker said the lack of standardization from the state for businesses to reopen and the lack of methodology of how the state’s standards were set contributed to his vote to end the enforcement.

Businesses and individuals still need to use common sense, Crocker said, and the county is encouraging safe practices such as social distancing.

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