At 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Kern County businesses will likely be subjected to another round of business restrictions that are already underway in more than 30 other counties in California.
After Kern's coronavirus metrics exceeded state guidelines for three days in a row beginning Saturday, the state informed the Public Health Services Department it would implement stricter business regulations beginning Friday.
Although official word of the closures hadn't been sent to Kern by Thursday afternoon, local officials believed the state would nevertheless enact new restrictions.
Those include banning indoor activity in industries like churches, malls, hair salons, gyms, noncritical offices and other personal service providers. Bars and restaurants have already been ordered to cease indoor activity.
The county ended up on the state COVID-19 watchlist by failing a variety of metrics monitored by the state, including testing positivity rate, hospital stays related to the coronavirus and the ratio of infected individuals to the population.
The restrictions come just as businesses have begun reopening following a statewide shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic.
“It is a challenge for our economy and our local businesses to keep abreast of the changes and to constantly adjust,” Public Health Services Director Matt Constantine said during a Thursday news conference. “It’s not as easy as just opening in one day.”
He acknowledged that once placed on the state’s monitoring list, no timeline or other guidance existed for being removed. Counties that end up on the list are left to watch and wait for new orders from the state.