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Posted on: May 15, 2020

Covid-19 Update from the City Manager

City Manager Update for May 15th.

Today, Dr. Doohan, our Public Health Officer, announced that she is working with County Counsel on another Order  further loosening  restrictions that will include dog grooming and landscaping.  This has not been released yet. 

She said that she is working to get fully into Stage 2, hopefully, by next Friday. The two areas left in Stage 2 (2.5) include retail for in-store shopping and some restaurant dining. There is going to be a “five step process” for retail to re-open. West Company is working with the Board of Supervisors ad hoc to put together a “self-certification” for businesses to re-open. To be able to get to this step, they said that they needed to be able to give an “attestation.” This attestation will prove that the County has complied with the State criteria necessary to move into further stages of opening.   The issue for Mendocino County  has been testing and the fact that we do not have a testing lab. Mendocino County has been a "testing desert". We have no public health staff or a public health lab. After multiple strategy calls with Assembly member Wood and Senator McGuire, they, and the County, advocated with the State to acquire a testing site, which is “Optim-serve.” It will be located in the Fairgrounds in Ukiah. This will allow anyone in the County to be able to take the test. We don’t know what day this will open, but it will be sometime next week. Cost: If you have insurance, you must disclose this and use your insurance. If you do not have insurance, the test will be free.  

We have been mowing our fields for the public use in conformance with the Public Health Officer’s Order. Pursuant to this Order, the Soccer Field, Dog Parks, Haehl Creek Park are mowed and open.  The two  little league fields are open with signage. We are working on starting children’s swimming lessons as soon as we can.  We are also working on strategies to open the skate park in manner that would comply with the County Public Health Order. We so appreciate that the public has been using facilities in accordance with the rules. We know that these are difficult times and we all want to get out and PLAY!  Our hope is that soon, we will! 

Please also be aware that the City of Willits is following the May 8th Order exactly  in regards to business activity.  Despite rumors to the contrary, the rules for businesses are not  more strict in Willits than the Order of May 8th allows. The City has made no discretionary decisions as to the content of the orders pertaining to businesses. We are required by law to follow these rules. We appreciate all the businesses that have worked so hard to comply with this Order and who are struggling in this difficult time. We are all hoping and expecting that further loosening will happen very soon. The Order of May 8th allowed delivery and curbside pick-up for non-essential businesses.  

Please keep up the good work and take care of our community. The faster we can meet our metrics and show that we can still stay safe, the more the County and the State will allow us to open.   

We posted the  full text of the May 8th Order on our Facebook and Webpage last week. This Order gave criteria for the opening of recreation facilities. We are excerpting these criteria and definitions below,  as it appears there is some confusion as to the rules we must follow.   We urge residents to follow our Facebook page and website and not rely on hearsay or non-official websites.  If there are questions, please call the City directly. 

For your clarification, we wanted to repost section 9 of the full Order of  May 8th.  Please note underlined sections, underlined for emphasis, as these are where most of the questions have been centered.  Please see section iii (e). This mandates that before we open outdoor recreation areas, we must post health/safety protocols and we must be able to manage the facility to comply with the mandates, including being able to restrict access to the uses described in the order. We fully intend to continue to open facilities, as we are able to manage them with the protocols listed or until the Orders are modified.

Please also note section c. which states: Sports or activities approved in this section that include the use of shared equipment or physical contact between participants may only be engaged in by members of the same household or living unit, or children (age 12 or under) in a Stable Group of 12, as defined in Section 14(u.). This is why adult league activities of any kind is not yet allowed. 

9. Definitions and Exemptions.

For purposes of this Order otherwise, individuals are allowed to leave their residence only to perform any of the following “Essential Activities.”                                                                    

To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, by way of example only and without limitation, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home.

To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services (such as cleaning or disinfection services), or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.

To engage in outdoor recreation activity, such as walking, jogging, hiking or bicycling, swimming, surfing, kayaking, canoeing, golfing, animal-related recreation, and any lawful solitary activity in compliance with the Social Distancing Requirements in this order, in compliance with the Health Officer’s Orders pertaining to Facial Coverings, and with the following limitations:

The recreation must be initiated from within fifty (50) miles of one’s residence (as measured in a straight line on a map), and is urged to remain within one county to limit the transmission of the virus;

Outdoor recreation activity at parks, beaches, and other open spaces must comply with any restrictions on access and use established by the Health Officer, government, or other entity that manages such area to reduce crowding and risk of transmission of COVID-19. Such restrictions may include, but are not limited to, restricting the number of entrants, closing the area to vehicular access and parking, closure to all public access, or limitation of the hours of access;

Use of recreational areas with high-touch equipment or that encourage gathering, including, but not limited to, playgrounds, outdoor gym equipment, picnic areas, and barbecue areas, is prohibited outside of residences, and all such areas shall be closed to public access including by signage and, as appropriate, by physical barriers;

Sports or activities approved in this section that include the use of shared equipment or physical contact between participants may only be engaged in by members of the same household or living unit, or children (age 12 or under) in a Stable Group of 12, as defined in Section 14(u.).

Use of shared facilities for recreational activities that may occur outside of residences, consistent with the restrictions set forth in subsections a., b., c., and d. above (i.e., solitary, within the same household or living unit, or children in a Stable Group of 12), including, but not limited to, golf courses, skate parks, athletic fields, shooting and archery ranges, basketball courts, tennis courts, horseback riding facilities and stables (singles), disc golf parks, dog parks, boat ramps, animal-related recreation facilities, must, before they may begin, comply with social distancing and health/safety protocols posted at the site and any other restrictions, including prohibitions, on access and use established by the Health Officer, government, or any other entity that manages such an area to reduce crowding and risk of transmission of COVID-19, (See, e.g., Appendix C-1 Recreational Safety Protocol COVID-19 Prevention (Golf)).

People in a household or living unit, or other Stable Group of 12 or less, (defined in Section 14(u.) may recreate in their vehicles by way of example, travel to a location for outdoor recreation, attend a ceremony or a live-streamed or video-recorded event, or simply engage in recreational driving or boating. Persons not in the same household, occupying the same vehicle must be part of a Stable Group of 12 and should attempt to maximize social distancing, facial coverings, or other protective measures, to the extent practical. The vehicular recreation must stay within fifty (50) miles of one’s residence (as measured in a straight line on a map), and is urged to remain within one county to limit the transmission of the virus.

To perform work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business, Outdoor Business, Lower Risk Business, or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Order, including Minimum Basic Operations.

To provide necessary care for a family member or pet in another household who has no other source of care or who needs assistance, or to care for the property of a family member who is hospitalized or deceased.

To attend a funeral with no more than 12 individuals (including staff) present, and at which members of different households or living units maintain social distancing from each other.

To perform volunteer activities or services in groups of 12 individuals or less (including staff), and at which members of different households or living units maintain social distancing from each other, for all businesses or activities allowed under this Order.

To move residences. When moving into or out of the Mendocino County, individuals are strongly urged to quarantine for 14 days. To quarantine, individuals should follow the guidance of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Healthcare personnel, first responders, and disaster service workers who have traveled outside of Mendocino County and are returning to essential activities in Mendocino County are strongly urged to either quarantine for 14 days or follow the specific CDC Guidance for healthcare personnel (HCP) found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesment-hcp.html

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