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Monday, May 16, 2022

Scramble to Comply in Tier Changes

 Ventura County was one of 41 counties to drop to the state’s most restrictive reopening framework tier on Nov. 16, joining the rest of Southern California.Formerly in the red tier, Ventura’s purple tier status means a closure of some indoor activities, including those at restaurants, churches, gyms and movie theaters. Retail operations can continue indoors under the purple tier, but capacity is reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent.California’s four tiers — purple, red, orange and yellow — dictate if businesses need to reduce capacity and/or operate outdoors.“It’s extremely disappointing for our businesses in Ventura County to be back in the purple tier when we have seen a 99.9 percent compliance rate,” said Danielle Borja, chief executive of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Our business community is truly doing their part to protect public health. The increase in case numbers are primarily being traced back to private gatherings, yet our businesses are the ones paying the price.”“We weren’t totally surprised based on the climbing numbers,” added Kathi Van Etten, chief executive of the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We had written to (Gov. Gavin Newsom) previously about how the ‘dimmer-switch’ approach is financially and emotionally devastating to our already struggling business community.”Van Etten referred to Newsom’s favorite home-lighting metaphor to describe state tiers for reopening.Borja’s advice to Ventura businesses: Be prepared to live in the state’s most restrictive tier for a long time, unless additional metrics are taken into account.“Our chamber will continue to seek avenues to advocate for additional metrics, including hospital and testing capacity, to be considered in the four-tier system at the state level,” Borja told the Business Journal.In the meantime, affected businesses should create a culture of frequent COVID testing, leverage technology for online sales and expand curbside pickup for the holiday season, chamber leaders said.The Conejo chamber is also launching a “gift card mall” and holiday gift guide as part of its #ShopConejo initiative. The campaign highlights how businesses have adjusted to meet state guidance and give customers a glimpse of what to expect when it comes to retail.The Shop Simi Valley First Fa La La La Local campaign runs from Nov. 21 to Dec. 6, encouraging people to spend locally, Van Etten said.Newsom said the state is moving some counties across multiple tiers depending on case severity, and that those moved to a more restrictive tier need to take action immediately.Counties can be moved back after just one week of reported cases, Newsom added, instead of the two-week tier shift to either side of the spectrum. That’s to get a jump on the 51.3 percent spike in cases during the first week in November.The Ventura County case rate for the coronavirus per 100,000 residents is currently 13.3, according to the Ventura County Recovers website. Counties with case rates above 7 are placed in the purple tier.

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