A press release from the City of Visalia
The Visalia City Council, individually and collectively, shares the concerns of our citizens about ending the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Visalia, as well as taking appropriate steps toward economic recovery and a “reopening” of the community. The Council wants our citizens to maintain both their physical and economic health. The Council shares concern and sympathies with families who are suffering under the virus.
At the City Council meeting of Monday May 4, 2020 a majority of the City Council members (not all) expressed a strong desire to see the community move toward reopening. City Council members noted that one of the most meaningful steps in providing relief to our citizens will be their ability to return to work. That said, it is critical for our citizens to understand and appreciate that the Visalia City Council has never taken ANY action to close a business, to restrict the movements of our citizens, to order citizens to remain home, or to alter the behavior of citizens or businesses in any fashion. ALL direction to date has come from the Governor of California, the State of California, the United States government, and Tulare County health officials. Citizens and businesses have heeded this direction, but they have done so voluntarily. The Visalia City Council has no authority to take any action to “reopen” the local economy. The City Council did not close any businesses, and can therefore not open any businesses. That is outside the scope of their authority under current conditions. The Council reiterated to staff what Governor Newsom said when issuing the original Stay-At-Home order – that local law enforcement is not charged with enforcement of the statewide restrictions. The City Council stressed that they do not expect City of Visalia staff to intervene or enforce. They also confirmed with staff that to date NO fines have been levied against any Visalia business for non-compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order.
Members of the City Council have expressed their support of efforts to reopen the economy – locally and statewide – with appropriate precautions and modifications.
Actions by Governor Newsom on Monday have placed the significant burden of “next steps” on the county public health officers throughout the state, to be ratified by their boards of supervisors. The Governor has indicated that by Thursday of this week, details will be provided to county public health officers that will allow a move to what the State considers “Stage 2”. This will include expanded retail business activity with curbside pickup, following specific operational modifications. The Governor noted that this action will not include offices, seated dining, retail malls, and other businesses. Counties will have an opportunity to move through Stage 2 toward Stage 3 (a broader scope of business reopenings) if the county attests that they meet the State’s “readiness criteria”. The County of Tulare has remaining hurdles to clear in order to meet all readiness criteria, and they are working on those efforts. Counties must also create and submit a readiness plan to the State, which shall be made publicly available.
At this time, the focus has shifted to the work of the county public health officers and the boards of supervisors. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, those comments would most effectively be directed toward these county officials.