"It is time to start opening back up the Coachella Valley economy," writes Joshua R. Bonner, IOM President and CEO of the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, in a letter to Riverside County District 4 Supervisor Manny Perez.
Bonner points out that many big-box stores have been allowed to remain open and are even allowed to sell non-essential goods, the same as many other local stores are closed.
Many stores require staff and shoppers to wear face coverings or they will not be allowed to enter. Palm Springs even issued an order requiring that stores adhere to a policy of not serving anyone not wearing a face
covering, among other safety precautions.
Bonner noted that the Coachella Valley does not have the population density that puts cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles at a higher risk of spread. Although we have do have at-risk populations that must be protected, there are also those that can take extra precautions.
In addition, Bonner writes that the GCVCC board believes that there could be "severe, irreversible damage if the current shutdown stretches into the summer months.”
“Retail, food and beverage, hospitality, and more have already suffered major losses due to the shutdown. For now, our businesses look to re-open soon, and a return to some semblance of normalcy and economic activity that has been deferred to the Fall,” Bonner wrote.
The GCVCC listed a five steps the county should take in the next few weeks to help move the economy further:
- Step 1 - Form a County wide task force that represents the local business community and is able to advise the County Board of Supervisors.
- Step 2 - Form working subcommittees specific to the industries vital to our local economy. The GCVCC recommends subcommittees be formed for the following industries:
- Food and Beverage
- Hotel and Resorts
- Service Industry (salons, massage, etc.)
- Large Group Gathering Industry (movie theaters, bowling, concerts, etc.)
"Dr. Kaiser and the medical community are experts on contagions, and we respect their guidance and input. But when it comes to how a plate of food moves from the kitchen to a banquet table, our business community that directly engages in that activity has expertise and needs a voice," Bonner wrote.
- Step 3 - Deliver the recommendations of the Task Force to the County Health Department
- Step 4 - Present the agreed-upon recommendations to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors for consideration.
- Step 5 - The Board of Supervisors then works with Governor Newsom, or when appropriate in place of, to reopen the local economy.
"Right now, it is prudent for the Governor to continue to direct businesses to remain closed, as there are no benchmarks in place that would say a business is ready to open. Working in conjunction with the Riverside County Department of Health, we need to establish those benchmarks to
demonstrate readiness," Bonner writes.
Gov. Newsom noted in a news conference on Tuesday that the state is "weeks, not months" away from reopening lower risk workplaces, which includes some retail stores. Higher risk workplaces, like personal care and movie theaters, are "months, not weeks" away from reopening.
Riverside County officials note that as soon as the governor releases the
stay at home order, Riverside County will be ready to move into the governor’s second phase of reopening businesses.
As of April 29, there are 3,942 confirmed positive cases and 141 deaths. 1,346 patients have made a full recovery.
The GCVCC is the largest regional chamber in the Coachella Valley and second-largest chamber in Riverside County. It is comprised of 1,200 business partners and was formed as a partnership between the Coachella, Indio, and La Quinta Chambers of Commerce, as well as the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians and Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians