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Sonora And Tuolumne County Leaders Answer Hot Button Business Questions

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Sonora, CA — Wednesday evening Tuolumne County and City of Sonora leaders held a second business webinar.

It was on the online platform Zoom, and hosted by Tuolumne County’s Director of Innovation and Business Assistance, Cole Przybyla. It featured Tuolumne County Health Officer Dr. Liza Ortiz, Tuolumne County Supervisors Karl Rodefer and Sherri Brennan, Sonora City Administrator Mary Rose Rutikanga and Sonora Councilwoman Colette Such.

City Administrator Rutikanga stated that she has fielded questions from various business owners in recent days who are trying to reopen. She noted that California, and thus the City of Sonora, are still under the Governor’s Stay at Home order. The city has a fine structure it can use for anyone disobeying the orders. To this point, they have simply been working to educate businesses, and have not needed to implement fines.

Tuolumne County Public Health Officer Dr. Liza Ortiz detailed the draft guidelines for reopening Tuolumne County businesses, released earlier this week. She noted, “In general, what you should be thinking about is physical space in between people of different households and different groups.  There are also basics about the need for increased levels of cleanliness and the visibility of that cleanliness. Again, this is a draft and whatever the state eventually orders, we have to follow, and we expect they will put those out (orders) very soon.”

Dr. Ortiz also detailed the various stages or reopening, as reported earlier, here.

Tuolumne County Supervisor Karl Rodefer says there are still some issues that associations representing counties are discussing and awaiting feedback related to from the Governor’s Office.

They include timing, and whether parts of the state could go through the stages quicker. Rodefer said around 2/3 of California is not severely impacted at this time, so that would argue the point for some areas being allowed to reopen sooner, and advance through the stages faster. He said he is hoping for “local flexibility” so that it is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

There were some questions submitted ahead of the meeting, and one was about face coverings. Dr. Ortiz noted that workers at businesses where social distancing is difficult should were face masks, but noted that Tuolumne County does not have an ordinance legally requiring it.

The state, however, could do so, at some point.

The county is also planning to release more information soon about questions related to loosening recreational restrictions. The county has been in contact with the state, and some announcements will be forthcoming, according to Dr. Ortiz. We reported earlier this week that Calaveras County has loosened restrictions on activities like golfing, boating, ATV riding and horseback riding.

Regarding other questions, It was noted that weddings, funerals and places of worship will likely be regulated depending on size.

Asked about when non-essential travel will be allowed, Dr. Ortiz stated it will likely be in the state’s  Stage 3. This includes campgrounds, and recreational camp programs, in the county.

Supervisor Rodefer noted that the success of going from the various stages will primarily rely on self-policing and the community buying into the rules and the legal modifications, and business owners following through.

He says if businesses try to break the rules, and open early, it will make it more difficult for local leaders to convince the state to allow flexibility, and the ability to “govern ourselves.”

Dr. Ortiz also fielded questions about the mental health aspect of the crisis. She relayed, “That is a lot of why we are trying to move through this as fast as we can (legally).  We have no intention of making this last any longer than the state’s rulings.  We are trying everything we can to advocate for our autonomy  and making some of these rules faster, and to move into stages faster, than other parts of the state.”

On the topic of mental health, Supervisor Rodefer added that Sheriff Bill Pooley has reported an uptick locally in domestic abuse and child run away cases.

Business webinars will continue, weekly, at 6pm, on Wednesday.

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