When could local COVID-19-related restrictions be lifted?

Posted at 6:35 PM, Apr 16, 2020

Stay-at-home orders across the nation continue to be extended, but when lifted, many are wondering what the progression will look like for opening local economies.

“The clothing shop will be open again, and the shoe store will be open again. Whatever store you fancy will be open again,” Dr. Henning Ansorg with Santa Barbara County Public Health said Thursday, but before that occurs, certain things need to happen. The decline in cases of COVID-19, the amount of testing needs to ramp up, and companies will have to make structural and organizational changes.

“You’re going to see a lot more space in between tables. You can’t have two rows of people at a bar, watching a game and having a beer,” Ansorg said. “I don’t think that’s going to be happening for a long time, unfortunately.”

In the meantime, small victories can be won on a local level if the curve in coronavirus cases is on a steady decline. State mandates need to be followed, but Ansorg thinks things could change in the near future.

“I’m hoping the beginning of May, middle of May, it will definitely change,” Ansorg said. “At the county level, you can be stricter, not looser. I think the state will give us a lot of leeway, a lot of room to adjust.”

If you’re a sports fan or concertgoer, gear up for a rough summer.

“It pains me to say so, but it’s not going to happen,” Ansorg said. “We aren’t going to have sporting events with fans. We’re going to have to watch it on TV. Depending on the venue, way less people can participate as fans. Anything that has a stadium and a lot of fans watching – that would be like petri dishes for the virus. That would be a disaster. That’s just not safe this summer.”

In San Luis Obispo County, Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein says two things need to happen in the county to get back to a new normal.

“The only way we go back to complete normal is when we have a vaccine, or when we have so many people that’ve been infected that we have widespread immunity, or otherwise known as herd immunity,” Borenstein said.

Ansorg says he commends everyone staying home in Santa Barbara County because the numbers are slightly decreasing. And he’s encouraging everyone to stay the course and not give up early; that could prolong this by weeks, and maybe months.