County Releases Reopening Playbook

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   May 21, 2020

Last week, the County of Santa Barbara published a local supplement to the State’s guidelines for reopening various industry sectors following over two months of stay-at-home orders. The Reopening in a Safe Environment Guide, aka RISE Guide, is a roadmap that describes when and how the County can reopen businesses safely. The Guide, which is available to view on, is considered a live and fluid document, subject to change as guidelines change.

The good–great–news is that as of press time, Santa Barbara County has met or exceeded all requirements to accelerate the reopening of Phase 2B businesses, which includes resuming regular retail operations, the reopening of shopping malls and swap meets, dine-in restaurants, office-based businesses, school and childcare facilities, and some personal services including tanning facilities and car washes.

Last week the County successfully petitioned the State to be able to remove the COVID-19 case count and death statistics from the Lompoc Federal Prison, which was causing the County as a whole to be ineligible to reopen. Without these numbers, the County has had fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days, or less than 8% testing positive in the past seven days. There have been no community deaths in the past two weeks; testing capacity is more than adequate; containment capacity, which includes the hiring of contact tracers and the ability to temporarily house at least 15% of county residents experiencing homelessness, is adequate, as is hospital capacity; vulnerable populations have the necessary PPE; and other criteria has been met or exceeded. “The disease is trending down,” said Public Health Officer Henning Ansorg to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning.

The County has already sent its attestation to get approval from the State for the reopening of Stage 2B businesses; it is expected to happen as early as the beginning of June. Business owners can view the RISE Guide on, and become familiar with the guidelines that will be in place. Businesses will have to perform a risk assessment and prepare and implement a protection plan, complete an industry specific checklist, complete attestation, and print out and post an applicable certificate at the place of business. There will be requirements for increased signage, employee training, physical distancing, and routine sanitation. Some businesses that require modifications in order to adhere to physical distancing guidelines may require inspections and permitting. “The goal is to make this exceptionally easy for our businesses to access,” said Terri Nisich, Assistant CEO at the County, who said that there are opportunities for existing businesses to expand their footprint outside, to accommodate social distancing. Business owners should check out pages 47, 48, and 49 of the RISE Guide, available at

The next stages (Stages 3 and 4) of reopening will not take place until the governor allows; these businesses include the beverage industry including bars and lounges; hair and nail salons; barbers; body art parlors; gyms; faith-based community services; events, venues, attractions; and hotels and lodging for tourism and leisure.

 “I want to praise the people of Santa Barbara County. The reason we meet the criteria that the governor has set, is due to an unprecedented amount of cooperation from the people of the county. We are beating the disease,” said First District Supervisor Das Williams. “My hope is that people continue in that spirit. Support local business, and support each other as a community.” 

Visit for the most current information.


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