Overall low numbers keep local businesses and recreation moving ahead

With an increase of three cases in SLO County, the confirmed total case count of COVID-19 rose to 266 on Wednesday. The increase was just over one percent, with Paso Robles accounting for two of the three as it continues to produce more than 50 percent of all cases over the course of the past 14 days. Over the past two weeks, SLO County has counted a total of 34 new cases — less than 2.5 new cases per day.

The control over the spread will be a point of interest for the county as opening business and recreation activities continue at a steady tick. This week, barbershops and hair salons were given the green light with modifications, as did houses of worship. Retail and restaurants opened up for in-store patrons, and beaches and lakes resumed some modified activities. These activities are subject to high scrutiny as a means of community transmission of coronavirus, but the county rate of infection is low enough to instill confidence in SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein that it can be done safely — however, the County continues to advocate for the absence of tourists from out of the county.

Each industry has a checklist for health and safety, as well as varied levels of certification and attestation of implemented measures required to open and stay open.

From the early days of shelter orders in SLO County, the message has been an ask for voluntary observance of necessary health and safety measures, and that message continued on Wednesday from Borenstein during the regularly scheduled public briefing. The County focus on hospitalizations as a measure of community health remain a key indicator. Personal and community responsibility for health and safety is key to ongoing success throughout 2020, especially as more opens.


Places where human contact is commonplace, and even therapeutic, are currently encouraged to abstain and observe distancing measures.

“Physical distancing is expected as a part of the reopening of our houses of worship, as is sanitation and the availability of hand sanitizer and temperature screening,” Borenstein said.

Borenstein also recommended that reservation systems or alternate times for services in addition to virtual services and drive-thru options for vulnerable populations should be considered. For in-person services, the state guidance for houses of worship allow for 100 people or 25 percent of the usual capacity of the congregation, whichever is lower. Childcare and “Sunday school” is still not allowed, and singing is discouraged by health officials due to the potential of expulsion of “droplets” of saliva.

Borenstein addressed additional sectors that have been given the green light. In particular, barbershops and hair salons will have specific modifications needed, including face coverings for everyone.

“We still are asking that when they move forward they have all the precaution in place as well as training for their staff, and includes face coverings for the person giving the service as well as the patron,” Borenstein said.

The allowances for barbershops and hair salons do not include massage, nail or spa services, which are not currently allowed to operate. Borenstein applauded the county residents for their effort in reducing spread of COVID-19, and impressed that ongoing precautions be taken to preserve the positive trends.

Our vigilance has yielded a very good situation and we want to continue that,” Borenstein said.

For up-to-date information, go to our dedicated COVID-19 page.