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The timetable for reopening businesses in Humboldt County has been subject to change from one day to the next, and that’s largely due to the rapidly evolving guidance coming down from Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office.

So say to the two most familiar faces of the local pandemic response — Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich and Sheriff Billy Honsal — in a video sent to local media this afternoon. In prepared remarks, the two officials say salons and barber shops are on deck to reopen next.

The county is currently accepting applications for certification from such businesses, and they may get the green light to reopen as soon as Friday, June 12, so long as we don’t see any big changes to our COVID caseload, hospitalizations or preparedness capabilities.

In the video, Frankovich gives an overview of the where the county currently stands and how we got here. In mid-May the county submitted a letter to the governor’s office requesting a variance to allow local control over reopening. The request was granted, giving Humboldt officials the ability to navigate through Stage 2 of the governor’s four-stage reopening plan.

The county has since approved more than 100 reopening applications from local retail businesses, Frankovich said. Local restaurants were allowed to resume offering dine-in service last Friday.

Honsal said the county is offering guidance from the state, along with resources to help business owners develop their reopening plans, at humboldtgov.org. Of the roughly 6,500 businesses in the county, Honsal said about 1,000 have submitted reopening plans.

He said the county has two goals for businesses that are reopening: to make customers feel comfortable to patronize them and to make employees feel their workplace safety has been prioritized.

“We’re navigating nicely through Stage 2,” Frankovich says. “This past week the governor said we’re going to add thing in Stage 3 in the mix.” That’s where beauty salons and barber shops come in, and Frankovich said guidance will soon be provided for even more kinds of businesses, including nail salons and fitness establishments.

Frankovich says this systematic approach is deliberate. “It was never the intent of the state or locally for us to flip a light switch and open everything back to normal in one fell swoop,” she says. Each new step can change the dynamic of the virus and increase case numbers, so officials need time — anywhere from two to 12 weeks — to observe the impact of those measures.

 “If the numbers suddenly got worrisome, we’d need to be able to take a longer pause,” Frankovich explains. 

Honsal says the county will likely be making an announcement next week about when beauty parlors and barber shops can reopen. He also reminds people that when the governor office issues guidance for reopening a new business sector, that doesn’t mean those kinds of businesses can immediately reopen here in Humboldt. Local control means reopening slowly as the data allows.

Honsal says he and Frankovich have both been seeking guidance from the state about when groups will be allowed to get back together. “We’re advocating for this community … because we’d like to see that,” he says.

Frakovich closes by advising people with questions about how the reopening process should unfold — or what current conditions mean to their business — to call the Joint Information Center at 441-5000.