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Lake Forest
11 Sep, Friday
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Dr. Clayton Chau OCHC and Lisa Dunn OCBC

Is Your Retail Business Ready to Open? OC Health & Orange County Business Council Clarify Covid-19 Guidelines & Enforcement

Today a meeting held by Dr. Clayton Chau from the Orange County Health Care Agency and Lucy Dunn, President of the Orange County Business Council, was conducted to touch on guidelines and orders in the county for businesses during Covid-19.

“This is not about paranoia, the coronavirus is three months young in science. Yes, we know a lot but we still have a lot more to learn because don’t know. We don’t have the vaccine yet and it won’t be online for another at least 18 months. We know the infection is out there,” Dr. Chau said.

Retail guidelines, rules and orders

The industry in focus today is the retail industry. As California moves into Stage 2 and Orange County was approved by the state to progress through the stage, more retail businesses are allowed to open.

Confusion among guidelines, rules, recommendations and orders has been circulating leading to questions for business owners like “am I going to get shut down,” “who is enforcing the rules,” and what exactly ARE the rules.

“Run it by your legal expert or your liability insurance and see where they are at. All that I know is this is the new way of living now until we get the vaccine and we’re all adjusting to it. We all understand the need for our economy to grow but we also need to take precautions,” Dr. Chau said.

Orders

Orange County mandated face coverings as an order on Saturday, May 23. Residents who are outside their home and unable to maintain six feet of social distancing are required to wear a mask.

“This is not about paranoia, the coronavirus is three months young in science. Yes, we know a lot but we still have a lot more to learn because don’t know. We don’t have the vaccine yet and it won’t be online for another at least 18 months. We know the infection is out there,” Dr. Chau said.

While some businesses may not require face coverings for customers, it is at their discretion as to whether they want to implement it as store policy.

Dr. Chau explained, “The most important thing is people who are infected, most of them are asymptomatic and we don’t know. While they are asymptomatic they are infectious. Yes, you don’t want to wear a mask but you don’t know if you’re positive or not. Wearing a mask is not about you, it’s about public health. It’s about your neighbor.”

Recommendations

Orange County has adopted relaxed guidelines for Covid-19, adhering to only the basic safety orders, rules and guidelines put out by the state and federal agencies.

Los Angeles had a strict increase from the states guidelines and “stay at home” order, with much of Los Angeles still under lock down today. San Diego also restricted their rules and has had a public face mask requirement as well as “stay at home”order to the present.

All states in the nation must adhere to federal guidelines, and all county’s must abide by state guidelines. Cities and county’s may restrict or loosen guidelines for anything below mandates from state and federal entities.

Orange County is adhering to state guidelines concerning business during Covid-19. As one of the only county’s approved to open by the state, Orange County is leading the charge for San Diego and Los Angeles.

Currently recommendations for businesses are offered through the county, state, nation and leading health care authorities. These recommendations are not mandatory or enforceable.

  • Temperature checks for employees and customers are optional and were originally recommended by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
  • Remote work for office workers is a heavy recommendation from the state as well as leading health agencies like the CDC, WHO and OCHC.
  • Partitions or shields for customer-facing employees are optional

Enforcement

Businesses are obligated to post a list of industry specific guidelines that they are following mandated from the state. The list must be verified by the owner as truth and the business must uphold the guidelines through Covid-19.

Lisa Dunn, President and CEO of Orange County Business Council spoke on rule enforcement and what business owners should be expecting.

“Nobody is coming in to check these things. We’re relying on people to be good folks and business owners,” Lisa said.

Most retail stores are left off the radar for regulatory checks because there weren’t and are not systems in place for them relating to health and safety.

“We would go out and relate it to food. Not this, this is an order from the state. It has nothing to do with the health and safety from the health care agency side. For health and safety related to food, we only look at how you handle food and the sanitary condition of the restaurant etc,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, Director of the OC Health Care Agency. “For any other business, if we never touch you or we never issued anything for you, we wouldn’t go out and inspect you or anything. This is a state order and we would hope everybody would follow the state order and do this.”

The sentiment was echoed by Lucy Dunn, who champions for Orange County business and economic prosperity.

“No one is going to go out right now and shut down a business,” Dunn said.

How can you open

Online forums have been posing the question of who does a business respond to if they want to open operations. Currently there is no verification program or approval process needed through the state or county to open your business.

“We the county don’t need to see a plan at all. We’re not the entity to approve a plan and the state does not need to review it,” said Dr. Chau.

Post your guidelines

Businesses in Orange County are required to post on the entryway to the business in a visible location the five guidelines relating to their industry that they are following. These industry-specific guidelines can be found on the state Covid-19 website.

“The confidence level of the public to return to patronize our businesses is not there yet. To give them confidence that you’ve done the right thing, that folks will feel safe to come into your restaurant, I think that’s an important point to emphasize and why the county felt they needed to post something on the window,” Dunn said.

Once businesses have posted their checklist and accredited that they are following all guidelines then they are free to open and resume operations.

“We’ve never experienced a pandemic before. We’re all learning to do things to protect each other and that has become an experience in itself,” Dunn said.

Business guidelines from Covid19.Ca.gov

The meetings are part of a three-day help series for different industries in Orange County to help businesses prepare to open and remain compliant with federal, state and county guidelines for Covid-19. The meetings are free to attend and happen via Zoom. To sign up visit the OCBC Facebook.

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Is Your Retail Business Ready to Open? OC Health & Orange County Business Council Clarify Covid-19 Guidelines & Enforcement