By Velena Jones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — We’re halfway through 2020, California is shutting parts of the state’s economy down for the second time, making closed restaurants and empty movie theaters a familiar sight.

“Safer ways for the economy to reopen might be the better way to go,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson at the Sacramento County Health Department.

Beilenson said closures could be our new normal if cases continue to rise.

“What we have to do, obviously, is keep the hospital and the ICU and the ventilators from being overused or overtaxed until we get a vaccine,” he said.

As Sacramento and several other counties enter round two of closures under Gov. Newsom’s newest order, Beilenson believes that in the future reopening could take longer, with more limitations on the number of customers inside businesses, more social distancing and minimal contact with others.

“Maybe when we open restaurants in three weeks we do it with more room between tables, we do it where everyone has to wait outside,” he explained. “It’s going to be guidance that is going to be stricter for each economic sector as they open. I think it makes good sense that we took three weeks to take a breath and a step back to bring it back under control,” he said.

Neighboring Yolo County is preemptively closing indoor dining at restaurants and entertainment venues, as their cases are already dangerously close to requiring a state-mandated order.

“We are four months into COVID. We definitely should not be seeing the numbers we are now. We need to look at what our options are beyond this,” said Jenny Tan, Yolo County Public Information Officer.

Tan said there are several reasons for the county’s decision to close down the same businesses under the governor’s order despite not being required to do so.

“We wanted to get a little ahead of the increases of these cases and with the fourth of July weekend coming up, even though we are telling people they need to social distance, and they shouldn’t be gathering with families, we know that people are still going to be doing that,” she said.

Tan said the county also considered the possibility that residents from other counties experiencing closures would decide to come to Yolo County over the holiday weekend.

After the three weeks of closures starting on July 3, Tan said extending closures to other businesses could be an option if cases do not decline. The county is currently brainstorming what enforcement might look like when they try to reopen again.

Mask coverings and social distancing will likely be a way of life until a vaccine is available, according to Dr. Beilenson. He is hopeful that the county will be able to reopen successfully without closing again in the future. He explained learning how to flatten the curve will be a learning curve. As for what the next half of the year looks like, he said that will depend on the actions of residents in the community.

“No one has 20/20 foresight. We can’t see what is going to happen down the road, but we are doing our best as health officials,” he explained.

Velena Jones

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