Ventura County business owners and residents alike expressed excitement about indoor shopping and dine-in restaurants being allowed to reopen this week.
In Ventura on Thursday, shop signs read “open” and restaurants were ready for full service.
“This was like a ghost town down here, I didn’t like it at all,” Ventura resident Chuck McClellan said while walking around the downtown area of the city Thursday. “But I am really looking forward to today.”
Kim Peeples, owner of Vom Fass, a bourbon and spice store in downtown Ventura, said she was forced to close and lay off employees amid the crisis, even though her store was deemed essential.
“It’s been hard because there’s not a whole lot of activity downtown,” she said, before adding cheerfully, “We’re open and ready to go every day.”
Ventura County is the first county in Southern California to get approval from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office to move into accelerated Phase 2 of the state’s road to recovery.
After submitting an attestation plan to the governor’s office on Tuesday meeting eased requirements, the county got the green light from the state Wednesday evening.
As of Thursday, the county had a total of 883 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths.
Many businesses had already been allowed to resume operations in the last few weeks, but before doing so, had to register with the county and have a coronavirus plan in place.
In Fillmore, Mexican restaurant El Pescador won’t be fully operational, but reopening allows employees to safely serve customers from a distance.
“The community is excited that we’re actually opening our dining room, that’s more of our atmosphere, it wasn’t really take out,” said Jesus Ortiz Jr, El Pescador’s manager.
His father, owner Jesus Ortiz, had a message for Fillmore residents, too:
“I miss you guys, I can’t wait to see you again over here at El Pescador, to enjoy with you guys.”