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Tourists and Testing

As most of us are aware, the State issued guidance, effective June 12th, to allow for the opening of Campgrounds, RV Parks, Outdoor Recreation Areas, Hotels, Family Entertainment Centers, Restaurants, Bars, Wineries, Fitness Facilities, Museums, Galleries, Movie Theaters, Zoos and Aquariums late last week. Although not as close to home, guidance is also provided for music, film and television production and professional sports without a live audience. Dr. Doohan, Mendocino County’s Public Health Officer, has pledged to allow businesses to open compliant with the state and we anticipate a new Order on June 12th. Of course there is and will be significant guidance and limitation on how those businesses can operate but this list means we are very likely to be open to tourism as early as this weekend.

I have received dozens of inquiries, thoughts and comments on this topic in the last week. I don’t know any details and will likely learn them with everyone else on Friday when Dr. Doohan issues the new order. However, I do know that she has been meeting with business groups, including the lodging industry, to figure out how to implement this significant easing of the Order as safely as possible.

For some, this official opening up to tourists, is too early and for some way too late. City officials have received strongly worded advice from both camps. Regardless of which side of the debate we sit, we all must prepare for this opening. If you haven’t taken a look at the guidance documents provided at the state level, they are fairly complex. The COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Hotels, Lodging and Short Term Rentals is 16 pages long. The County Health Officer will likely add additional guidance in her new Order. Which means that businesses are working hard to meet those standards.

Here at the City, we will be opening the restrooms at the North Noyo Headlands Park on Friday. Our Public Safety Team will be ready for the additional traffic in town. At home, my family will be considering how to safely navigate our town this weekend. Each one of us must make a decision about how much risk we are willing to take in moving into this next stage of reopening. Social distancing and wearing face coverings when you are out will remain a staple of health and safety.

One area of concern for all of us is the lack of testing availability here on the Coast. One aspect of Mendocino County’s Attestation is the County’s determination that there is testing capacity to detect active infection and that the County has the capacity to test a minimum of 1.5 per 1,000 residents or 135 per day. Testing is also to be available for at least 75% of county residents, which is measured by 60 minutes driving time. Without testing on the Coast, the availability measure is not met.

The County’s OptumServe testing at the Fairgrounds in Ukiah is a wonderful resource but not very practical for many. As we invite tourists from all over to our City, we need to secure adequate testing capacity here on the Coast. This is not something we can just expect the County to provide us but something we must ask for and be active partners in securing. This means reminding the County Officials of our needs, partnering with our health providers to administer the testing and for all of us to be willing to get tested. This is especially important for essential workers, who should be tested every two weeks, who will now come in contact with more people travelling from greater distances.

— Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg City Manager

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