NOVATO (KPIX) — Beginning Monday morning, a number of Bay Area counties will relax some of their shelter-in-place rules. In Marin County, some so-called “non-essential” businesses will be allowed to reopen with a lot of conditions.
Many of the small stores in downtown Novato offer products and services considered non-essential. All the “closed” signs have made a walk down the sidewalk a bit depressing for resident Sophia McCrea.
“I want to be a part of society again. I miss it,” she said. “I miss being out and about. I’m tired of being at home.”
But there is some good news. On Monday, many of the small businesses will be able to serve the public again even if it’s just to bring items out to the curb.
“Retail that’s non-essential will be able to open curb-side and a lot of folks are excited about that as well as interested to see if that actually helps their business thrive,” said Kevin Wright, who manages a project called “Marin Recovers” to reopen the county’s economy.
Marin is an at-risk area, with one in three of its residents at least 60 years old. The new order prohibits customers from being inside retail stores or touching merchandise and requires each business to physically display their plan to meet social distancing requirements. Wright says it’s not perfect but it will get businesses thinking about what long-term changes may lie in their future.
“I think a lot of retail businesses are looking ahead and thinking we’re going to start here but we need to move to the indoor environment at some point,” he said.
That’s exactly the problem for Vonnell Osmidoff. She owns “Island Glow” which sells resort wear and tanning products. Osmidoff says her clothing is the kind that people need to try on for size and she believes selecting it from a website and picking it up at the curb could actually make things less safe.
“They take it home, they try it on then they’re going to bring it back anyway so it’s already been in their homes,” Osmidoff said. “It seems as though a private experience would be a better way to go.”
Marin County is loosening other restrictions as well. Cars have been prohibited at local parks to discourage large gatherings but, on Monday, the parking lots will reopen and people can once again drive to a recreation area for some fresh air and exercise. However, it will still be illegal to drive to some Marin parks that tend to draw large crowds.
• Point Reyes National Seashore
• Golden Gate National Recreation Area (including Muir Woods National Monument)
• Mount Tamalpais State Park
• Tomales Bay State Park
• Samuel P. Taylor State Park
• Chicken Ranch Beach (along Tomales Bay)
• Miller Park (along Tomales Bay)
• White House Pool Park in Point Reyes Station
• Bolinas Lagoon Open Space Preserve (including Bolinas County Park)
• all Marin Municipal Water District lands
• all beaches or inlets along the Pacific Ocean.
Those parks can only be accessed by cars displaying a state-issued disabled parking permit.
County officials will be watching to see if relaxing the rules causes a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases. If it does, the door could quickly be slammed shut again.