Desert Sun: Coronavirus FAQ: What city rules are in effect after county board rescinded health orders?

By: , Palm Springs Desert Sun

Published: 4:12 p.m. PT May 9, 2020

After a marathon meeting on Friday, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to direct the county’s public health officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, to rescind several local health orders stricter than Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order.

As a result, the county’s previous mandate of face coverings has been replaced with a “strong recommendation” to social distance and wear face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The board vote also directed Kaiser to rescind local orders limiting vacation rentals and golf. County spokeswoman Brooke Federico said golf courses remain open in the county under revised state guidance on outdoor recreation.

Although the county rules have changed and state orders remain in effect, some Coachella Valley cities have other measures in place that are stricter than the county rules.

Cathedral City

City spokesman Chris Parman said Cathedral City’s rules for face coverings, social distancing and golf courses mirror state and county orders.

“We have no local restrictions beyond these two agencies,” he said via email.

Last month, the city issued an order that prohibited the rental or lease of short-term lodging facilities through June 19.

There are, however, some exceptions. Short-term lodging may be used for essential workers, residents who need to isolate or quarantine, and in a few other scenarios, according to the order.

Coachella

Requests to the city of Coachella and mayor for information were not returned on Saturday.

Desert Hot Springs

On Tuesday, the Desert Hot Springs City Council unanimously approved in closed session a resolution requiring residents to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

Businesses that are open and will open in the next few weeks are subject to the face-covering and social-distancing mandate, Mayor Scott Matas said.

Earlier this month, the county said face coverings were not required to be worn at home, or inside the car with members of the same household. It also had a similar approach for residents spending time outdoors.

Indian Wells

The city of Indian Wells has been following state and county orders and has not instituted anything on top of those guidelines.

“We are going to be asking that residents and visitors respect the requests of our businesses if they ask you to wear your face mask while visiting them,” said Christopher Freeland, Indian Wells city manager.

“And when you come to City Hall, for the time being, we’re going to ask you to social distance there, as well as wear a mask,” he added. “That’s partly to protect our visitors but also to protect our employees, because as you know, we’re a very small organization of about 30 employees.”

Freeland said that after the supervisors voted to rescind county orders, the city would be reevaluating social distancing protocols at its municipal golf course, the Indian Wells Golf Resort, and see what best practices the general manager wanted to implement.

Golf courses in the city reopened a little over a week ago, as county officials amended the order to allow golf courses to reopen with restrictions.

The city had a short-term rental ban prior to the pandemic, which remains in place. The city allows exceptions for special events like the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and BNP Paribas Open.

Indio

The valley’s most populous city does not have a local order regarding the use of face coverings, City Manager Mark Scott said.

“We highly recommend them, but have not required them,” Scott said via email. “No one has been cited.”

Golf courses in the city are allowed to be open. With short-term rentals, Scott said the city requires proof that they are related to COVID-19.

La Quinta

For the most part, La Quinta has referenced the social distancing orders of the county and the state.

The city does have stricter social distancing requirements than the county with regard to short-term vacation rentals. The city has required that renters of “the Airbnb variety” to get pre-approval from the city in order to rent to essential workers.

“We just asked the various hosts to provide the documentation that supported that,” said La Quinta City Manager Jon McMillen.

The city has also been a little stricter with its rules for golf course use, McMillen said, requiring only one person per cart unless from the same household.

“We’re keeping that in place,” he said.

“At this point, nothing is changing, but that being said, the council always has the discretion to revisit this,” McMillen said. “We’re always looking at it, talking with other cities in our region. We’ll be evaluating in the next couple of days.”

Palm Desert

Palm Desert spokesman David Hermann said in a statement that the city will continue to operate consistent with state and county health orders and guidelines. The city is not contemplating any additional city directives, he said.

“​From the outset of the pandemic, Palm Desert has relied on the medical and scientific expertise of state and county public health officials rather than instituting local directives,” Hermann wrote.

Golf courses are open, and the city is still evaluating if the board’s decision will have any impact.

“Although vacation rentals are regulated in Palm Desert, there are no city-imposed public health-related restrictions and we are still evaluating the impact of the county’s actions on the use of vacation rentals in Palm Desert,” the city said.

Palm Springs

Officials said Saturday that residents and businesses are governed by the state’s order as well as several city emergency orders.

Some of the rules include:

  • Stay at home unless engaging in essential activities
  • Wear face coverings in public settings unless social distancing can be maintained
  • Golf, tennis and pickleball may reopen but are subject to strict safety protocols
  • Private pools within HOAs and apartments won’t be closed as long as social distancing and sanitation practices are maintained

Last month, Palm Springs adopted an order regarding employee and customer protections at grocery and retail drug stores. Some of the requirements included limiting occupancy to 40% and not serving customers who aren’t wearing face coverings.

The city said on Saturday all essential stores that provide in-person shopping will still be required to follow those safety measures.

Rancho Mirage

The city has a temporary moratorium on short-term rentals through June 1.

Violators of the moratorium are subject to citations and fines that start at $5,000, according to the city.

“Additional citations can result based on additional violations, including a full revocation of short-term rental certificate,” the city said.