Desert Sun: Supervisors delay vote on plan to rescind Riverside County-specific COVID-19 safeguards
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors punted Tuesday on a controversial plan to rescind a series of orders put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus. The board delayed the vote while supervisors await details on how local governments figure into Gov. Gavin Newsom’s phased reopening plan.
The supervisors will reconsider the motion at an emergency meeting on Friday, a day after Newsom is expected to outline criteria for counties looking to gradually reopen.
The continuance defied expectations that the supervisors — the majority of whom voiced public support for the motion in the lead-up to the meeting — would flout county public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser’s recommendations and align with statewide minimum guidelines.
After Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, who serves as the board chairman and represents the Coachella Valley, reversed his support for rescinding, most of the board followed suit and expressed uncertainty about whether to move to rescind the orders.
The 5-0 vote followed a lengthy and emotional public comment period and pleas from Kaiser and public health staff about keeping the orders in place.
Residents in favor of swiftly reopening the economy demonstrated before the meeting outside of the county building and, for the most part, commented in-person. Proponents of keeping Kaiser’s safeguards — which in some cases are more stringent than the state’s — called in and provided comment to county officials over the phone.
The motion under consideration would call for Kaiser to lift county orders that directed schools to close, allowed golf courses to reopen, restricted short-term vacation rentals and mandated the use of face coverings and social distancing in public places. Some of the orders have been superseded by the state — including for golf, schools and short-term rentals — which have been closed along with other businesses deemed “non-essential” since March.
Riverside County is one of several in California to have a face-covering mandate and, if the plan passes, the supervisors would direct Kaiser to lift it against his recommendations.