Although positive coronavirus cases in Marin have continued to rise in recent weeks, Willis has indicated that the rise has come in parallel with a significant rise in the level of testing and is thus comfortable moving towards a continued reopening.
In recent weeks, that has already meant a steady move toward a swifter reopening, including curbside pickup for retail on May 18, outdoor dining on June 1, and a reopening of indoor retail on June 12.
This week Willis indicated that much more is on the way. By June 29, indoor dining, indoor and outdoor gyms and fitness facilities, hair and nail salons and barbershops will all be able to reopen under the strict, comprehensive safety protocols and social distancing guidelines and best practices, Willis told the Marin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. In a subsequent update, County officials said that the June 29th reopening would also include esthetician, skin care, and cosmetology services; electrology; nail salons; body art professionals, tattoo parlors, and piercing shops; and massage therapy (in non-healthcare settings)
He also said that hotel/motels, short-term rentals, RVs, camping and kindergarten through 12th-grade schools will get approval.
Despite that avalanche of good news for the local economy, possibly the biggest news of the week came from the county and the Marin County Office of Education, which revealed that plans for the 2020-21 school year call for a full reopening of in-person classroom instruction in the fall, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
“We’ve been working on this since the day that schools first closed on March 16,” Mary Jane Burke, Marin County superintendent of schools, told the IJ. “All along, we’ve been trying to see what’s best for the students. What’s best for students is to be in school — it’s the right thing to do.” The new guidance for students from transitional kindergarten through 12th grade is for children to be in class five days a week — a major departure from the two days a week envisioned under a so-called “hybrid” instructional plan. MORE INFO ON SCHOOL PLANS HERE.
More instances of reopening could be on the way, as Willis said the county has applied for a variance that will allow Marin to move faster that state guidelines through the reopening process through the state’s attestation process. Since the process debuted in mid-May, at least 52 counties have already successfully gone through that process, and the state recently changed its criteria for issuing the exceptions.
Willis emphasized that his willingness to move forward with reopening is predicated new hospitalizations in Marin remaining relatively flat, even though the number of positive cases has risen.
Willis continued to call for caution and diligence for everyone involved in the reopening. “We must not mistake reopening for safety,” he told supervisors, pointing to continued use of masks, social distancing and hand washing.
As has often been the case over the past many months, there was some confusion with the ever-fluid rollout of new guidelines and green lights this week. In his briefing to the supervisors, Willis noted that nail salons and tattoo parlors were unlikely to get approval anytime soon because there is “so much one-on-one, close, intimate interaction in close proximity.”
But soon thereafter, the state of California, facing significant pushback from nail salon owners throughout the state, including a lawsuit from the Professional Beauty Federation of California, issued new state guidance that those studios and salons could reopen. That guidance includes required facemasks, far more intense cleaning practices for shared reusable items like tweezers, and the limited services — no mouth or nose tattoos or piercings for now.