Ventura County reopens dine-in restaurants and in-store shopping

Breakfast at Busy Bee Cafe on Main Street in downtown Ventura
Cal Youngblood, 75, is served breakfast Thursday by owner Raymundo Sanchez at Busy Bee Cafe on Main Street in downtown Ventura.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Ventura County has received state permission to reopen restaurants for seated dining in and allow shopping inside many retail stores, county officials said Thursday.

Officials said the California Department of Public Health has granted the county permission to move forward on a so-called accelerated Stage 2 path to reopening, along with more than 30 other counties, including San Diego.

On Wednesday, Ventura County officials announced the reopening of dine-in restaurants and all retail businesses with exterior-facing entrances. A day earlier, supervisors voted unanimously to ratify the move before submitting it to the state. It was approved in less than 24 hours, county officials said.

Ventura and San Diego counties are among the latest to get state approval to push through Phase 2. Orange County hasn’t been given the green light yet, and L.A. County doesn’t meet the criteria.

“We want our community to reopen safely. Community members and businesses must continue to practice social distancing to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure. This will help keep our numbers low so we can continue to move forward in reopening businesses throughout our county,” Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin said in a statement.

To qualify for the variance, counties must attest that hospitalization rates and positive test rates are stable or declining. They must also attest that they have a significant level of preparedness to handle testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment and a surge in hospitalizations. They must also have adequate plans for countywide containment.