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Home Lifestyle Business Essential or non-essential? Stay-at-home orders leave some businesses wondering – VC Star

Essential or non-essential? Stay-at-home orders leave some businesses wondering – VC Star

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An epidemiologist answers the biggest questions she’s getting about coronavirus.

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Stephanie Caldwell, president/CEO of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, says she’s hearing a lot of confusion in the Ventura business community about government stay-at-home orders issued to try to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the orders issued by Ventura County and the state last week, businesses deemed essential such as supermarkets, gas stations and banks may stay open, while those deemed non-essential such as dine-in restaurants, gyms and nail salons must close.

But some businesses in Ventura aren’t clear on whether they are essential or nonessential, Caldwell said.

“As I’m out there talking to people, we’ve been hearing a lot of confusion,” she said. 

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Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order refers to “16 critical infrastructure sectors” where people can continue working, but doesn’t say what they are. However, a supporting document lists essential businesses in detail.

The county’s order also lists essential businesses in detail.

Caldwell said the chamber refers businesses with questions to the county’s website, ventura.org, and Newsom’s website, gov.ca.gov, where information about the orders is posted.

“We really want people to get their information from reliable sources,” she said.

The county’s public information officer, Ashley Bautista, said the county is also getting questions from the business community.

“I have had lots of calls and our local dispatch centers have had lots of calls,” she said.

Peirano’s Market & Delicatessen in Ventura, said he has no doubt theirs is an essential business.

“Our understanding is that we’re in the grocery business and we’re allowed to stay open,” he said. “We think we’re providing an essential service.”

The delicatessen part of their business offers curbside pickup only, as permitted by the orders, he said. Dining on premises at restaurants is forbidden.

Jeff Hiller, who owns an ice cream store, Mister Softee, in Old Town Camarillo, doesn’t consider his business essential, and thus, has closed. He has also discontinued running his ice cream trucks.

Photos:Here’s what life in Ventura County looks like with the coronavirus

“As much as I need to be open, I can’t see ice cream as essential to people,” he wrote on the VCS Eats Facebook page. “Essential is breakfast, lunch and dinner for those who can’t cook or get to the store before the shelves are empty.

“I wish all the non-essential places would just close,” he wrote.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Eric Buschow, a department spokesman, said that as of Monday, the department had received roughly 20 complaints from the public countywide about businesses allegedly staying open in violation of the orders.

Here are the key points of California’s stay-at-home order

“I’m not aware of any deliberate defiance of the order,” he said. 

Members of the public who want to file a complaint with the sheriff’s office about alleged non-compliant businesses should call its non-emergency dispatch center at 805-654-9511.

A list of businesses that are permitted to remain open under the orders can be found at VCEmergency.com. Click on “stay well at home order,” then scroll down to frequently asked questions and “what are essential activities and what businesses that will stay open?”

Such a list can also be found at covid19.ca.gov. Click on “stay home order,” then “essential critical infrastructure workers.”

Star staff writer Lisa McKinnon contributed to this story.

Mike Harris covers the East County cities of Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, as well as transportation countywide. You can contact him at mike.harris@vcstar.com or 805-437-0323.

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