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Two more rural California counties have made moves to reopen businesses in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order.
Sutter and Yuba counties have joined Modoc County, which allowed schools, hair salons, churches, restaurants and its only movie theater to reopen on Friday.
“It’s been a long haul. We’re a small community,” restaurant owner Jodie Larranga said. “It’s not that we’ve been given permission, we’ve just had a belly full. People are fed up.”
Local officials said that businesses must follow certain guidelines, including allowing half the number of patrons with people staying 6 feet apart.
“Our residents were moving forward with or without us,” Heather Hardwick, the county’s deputy director of emergency services, said in an email to the AP.
“Nothing would please me more than pleasing those local officials … but we’re not out of the woods,” he said at a news conference Friday.
“No part of the state, no part of this country, few parts of the globe have been immune to this virus.”
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An order for Sutter and Yuba counties is following Modoc’s lead and allowing some nonessential businesses to reopen Monday under “appropriate modifications.”
The neighboring counties are governed by one health officer, Phuong Luu, who said restaurants, malls, gyms, salons, massage parlors and tattoo shops can all reopen Monday if they allow for the physical distancing of their patrons.
The defiance of these three counties reveals some of the problems that have sprung up during Newsom’s statewide lockdown, which was imposed in the middle of March to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Newsom said Friday that California could be days away from easing up on some of the restrictions, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“We’re getting very, very close to making some announcements that I think will be very meaningful to people,” he said.
But for the people of Sutter and Yuba counties, that’s not soon enough. Yuba County spokesperson Russ Brown said their decision was based on science and the overall health of the community, not political pressure.
“The order recognizes the difference between what the state has and what we have, and we also advise our residents of that,” Brown told Politico. “We definitely understand that, but we’re still moving ahead.
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