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Tulare County moves further into reopening without approval from state

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VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE) – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to defy the state’s emergency order and allow nearly all businesses, including those deemed ‘higher risk’ such as gyms and salons, to reopen.

In a split 3-2 vote, supervisors said they will not enforce the state order and want businesses to be smart about health guidelines, but also be able to decide for themselves if they want to reopen.

“Our board decided to take an official stance where we were really supporting our businesses to make sure that they have clarity to reopen – to make choices on their own,” said Supervisor Kuyler Crocker.

The move came after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced many counties would be able to move through his phased reopening plan at an accelerated rate.

But Newsom added this when asked which would not:

“It’s not surprising but there are concerns. As an example, in Tulare the skilled nursing facility,” he said.

Supervisor Dennis Townsend said meeting the governor’s requirements may be impossible and cripple the economy.

“We just took action to say we are going to reopen and we’re going to go all the way through phase 3 so we can get all the businesses in there,” he said.

The decision came as the county recorded a triple-digit spike in cases and four new deaths.

Kuyler Crocker acknowledged the high case count but said there’s more to look at.

“We have adequate hospital space, we do have contact traces, a number of metrics the governor has proposed we’re doing quite well,” he said.

Salons, gyms, and churches can now open without county interference. The decision puts the area ahead of Newsom’s plan, which does not allow for phase 3 openings.

“We’ll accelerate all the way through phase 3 and just ask people to abide by the guidance they see coming from the state, the guidance they see coming from the county on how to do that in a safe manner,” Townsend said.

Supervisors warn the state can still pull licenses from businesses where they have jurisdiction, such a liquor licenses.

County officials said they’re going to continue to put out guidance for businesses and ask that they follow those along with the state’s health directives as they start reopening.

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