Nearly 3,700 businesses register to reopen in Ventura County as total number of coronavirus cases tops 900

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Nearly 3,700 businesses have registered to reopen in Ventura County as the region heads toward recovery amid the coronavirus crisis, officials said Friday.

As of Wednesday evening, dine-in restaurants and in-store shopping were allowed to resume in the county after meeting eased criteria from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.

The county is the first in Southern California to get approval to move into accelerated Phase 2 of the governor’s plan.

Before reopening, businesses must register with the county to make sure they can meet social distancing requirements and have a safety plan in place.

Officials had already allowed most retail stores, as well as manufacturing and logistics businesses, to resume operations. And last week, childcare facilities, office spaces, full-service car washes, pet grooming businesses, landscaping and gardening businesses, outdoor museums and open galleries got the OK to reopen.

Stores allowed to reopen to the public this week include shopping malls, destination shopping centers, strip and outlet malls.

Business owners and residents alike expressed excitement about being able to enjoy more spaces in the road to recovery.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve hit some big milestones this week,” County Executive Officer Mike Powers said Friday.

The county reported 29 new coronavirus cases and one additional death on Friday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 912 and increasing the death toll to 30.

Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas noted that the increase in cases was to be expected as testing capacity has increased dramatically in the last few weeks.

With three new testing sites opening this week, officials are now averaging testing 600 people a day, while nearly 800 people were tested at the county’s nine sites on Thursday, Vargas said.

As of last week, anyone in the county can get tested, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, and Vargas urged people to get tested.

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, officials reminded residents to enjoy the outdoors but to do so safely and while maintaining social distance.

Most beaches, parks and trails in the county have been open for active use, with some restrictions. While some beach parking lots remain closed, bathrooms have reopened after being deemed essential, Supervisor Kelly Long said Friday.

Earlier this week, officials announced the closure of the popular Punch Bowls/Santa Paula Canyon trail for two weeks beginning Saturday.

Additionally, Long asked residents to “stay local,” and encouraged them to visit newly reopened restaurants to help rebuild the economy, while not spreading the virus to other areas.

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