The day after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office granted Kern County a regional variance, many businesses scrambled to reopen while others were relatively unaffected by the new state of affairs.

The regional variance allows counties to accelerate through the second stage of the governor’s four-stage reopening plan faster than the state as a whole. The governor is allowing counties that have not been as heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus to open more quickly than those that have not, as long as they meet certain criteria.

While the early phase of Stage 2 allowed only curbside pickup and delivery at restaurants and retail stores, the later phase gives businesses the option of in-person shopping and dining. Manufacturing, offices, childcare facilities, car washes, pet grooming, malls and outdoor museums, and public spaces are also allowed to open provided they follow state guidelines.

As of Thursday afternoon, the state had approved 42 counties to move more deeply into Stage 2.

“We believe that by following these guidelines, our county can safely and responsibly begin reopening our society and get people back to work,” Supervisor Leticia Perez said during a press conference Thursday morning. “We see Gov. Newsom’s decision to open during this Memorial Day weekend as a clear and strong demonstration to his commitment and trust in Kern County.”

Outlets at Tejon wasted no time Thursday in announcing stores would reopen. The shopping center noted in a press release that some stores would come back more quickly than others, and social distancing and mask wearing would be encouraged.

Marketing Director Rebecca Swiggum said in the release that employees had been working hard to make the outlet as safe as possible for guests.

Some restaurants, one of the main beneficiaries of the governor’s allowance, sprang into action on Thursday, quickly opening their doors to customers.

“I have piles of paperwork that I have to go read through with all the guidelines and updates,” said Mickensie Neal, who works at Ethel’s Old Corral in Bakersfield, which opened to dine-in customers Thursday.

She said owner Natalie Mears had been busy all day making sure the restaurant met the state’s social distancing guidelines and making sure all the employees were trained on new protocols.

While some businesses that were supposed to be part of the later phase of Stage 2 have been open for weeks, others are taking more time to adjust.

Valley Plaza Mall, one of Bakersfield’s biggest retail centers, was not ready to announce reopening plans on Thursday.

Cindy Harting, the owner of Tattle Tails Dog Grooming on District Boulevard, said she had been open for two weeks after being given permission by the Kern County Public Health Department.

“We’re just slammed, absolutely slammed,” she said. “We’re booked up into next month already.”

She added that the steady business she was experiencing would not make up for the months she had been shut down.

“I tried to apply for unemployment and I never could. The website kept crashing and I just gave up,” she said. “I’m just happy to be working again.”

While some industries can reopen, many must remain closed. Movie theaters, hair salons and even churches have not yet been cleared by the governor to open their doors to the public.

On Thursday, Kern County officials indicated they would wait for the governor’s go-ahead before moving forward.

“We would like to see these businesses get open and running, these venues get back to some normalcy to the extent they can,” said Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop.

Although the governor has said the state could move into Stage 3 in a few weeks, the exact date has not been revealed. If COVID-19 conditions worsen, the date could be pushed back.

Kern County, along with the rest of California, will have to wait to see what happens.

You can reach SAM MORGEN at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

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(17) comments

Masked 2020

who would of thought "Gene" was so sensitive

Gene Pool Chlorinator

And who would've thought someone that keeps changing their name to something nobody but themselves can read would consider themselves prescient...


I didn't go out this weekend. Not because I believe sheltering in place should go on. Only because I'm getting over a cold I got while doing just that. I firmly believe my immunity suffered while I was quarantining. But I will be out next week. I'm ready to return to life. I wouldn't have been so diligent had my sister not been so frail. Prays for everyone making their way into the great outdoors. May you all be Blessed with continued Good Health. God Bless You All.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

(second post)


My favorite troglodyte comes out of his cave to cast more aspersions my way...

Since you didn't reply to my last post regarding your BS assertions about me, I don't expect you to have the courage to answer these either, but here goes...

1) You're no better than Dweeb and his ilk- the only difference is that you come here using guerilla tactics, lobbing the grenade, then disappearing again for weeks. Real tough to do keyboard warrior...

2) You make a lot of claims, but never back them up with facts- example: claiming I made "alt right" posts and now calling out past "contradictions", of which there are none, and my honesty.

3) Since I, unlike Dweeb (and you apparently), don't think Trump is responsible for EVERY ill facing us as a nation means I'm a "Trump Supporter"? No genius, it means I don't take my talking points and political philosophy from bloviating morons on cable TV, and am willing to do my own research into issues.

Funny how you never offer anything positive to any post, you only hit and run and it's always left-to-right. Congratulations for being a hyper partisan hack- it beats having to think for a living...

Masked 2020

I'm with Moardeeb....... Tiffiany delivered 96 bottles of beer this A.M..... Happy Memorial Day.......stay Home...Stay Safe.......

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Yorkies, wow, you can say that ("I'm with Moardeeb") with a straight face, or are you just trolling us today??

If true, I think you're the first one ever...

Although if you did get that much beer today, I give you props on a great move, so it's all good... :)


‘deeb being less than truthful? Say it isn’t so...


He drives a motor home.....leave him be.


You're kidding me right? I drive by Ethel's all the time and the parking lot has been quite full thank you for a long time. All work trucks mostly.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

So, what's your point Dweeb?

And I thought you were sheltering in place for the past two months- were you not being honest with us?? ("I drive by Ethel's ALL THE TIME")


Hey look GPC the peanut gallery weighed in. I wonder, is it a leftist or a liberal. Either way they support someone who is proven to be dishonest so that says a lot about their character. Also, the fact that this person has proven to contradict themselves on a number of occasions in the past makes it laughable that they would falsely accuse others of being contradictory. It is probably in their best interest to go back under their rock until the pandemic is over, don’t want them to get overwhelmed like a number of their buddies have been so far.


I thought you were staying home in your bunker, skippy....

Independent Voter

On your way WHERE or FROM, Dweeb? Seriously, I think you've been playing us this whole time!

All Star

Why are you leaving your apartment? You are cheating death.


Reported US coronavirus deaths:

80 days ago: 6 deaths

70 days ago: 41 deaths

60 days ago: 413 deaths

50 days ago: 4,780 deaths

40 days ago: 20,604 deaths

30 days ago: 45,039 deaths

20 days ago: 64,943 deaths

10 days ago: 80,397 deaths

Right now: 94,702 deaths


Dweeb, didn't I see you living in a van DOWN BY THE RIVER!??

Independent Voter

Even The Guv has left Dweeb behind. Oh, yes, that's LEADERSHIP, eh Dweeb? What's opened up today? I want lunch out. YES! Can't wait!!

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