On March 26, 2020, Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott Matas and Assistant City Manager Doria Wilms filmed a live informational video regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus. This post summarizes their announcements.
The county and state recently released new updates regarding the nature of essential businesses, further clarifying what can and cannot be open through the duration of Governor Newsom’s Stay at Home Order.
Desert Hot Springs is receiving quite a few phone calls through our City Council and our City staff as to what these essential businesses are. They are summarized HERE as well as in this post.
The Governor’s Stay at Home Order
Firs, what does that mean? Please stay at home.
You may leave your home to get groceries, attend doctors’ appointments, go and pick up your prescriptions, etc. But when you do those things, please observe social distancing. That means stay six feet apart from the person in front of you or behind you. You can walk your dog. You can walk around the block. But again, we really are asking folks to maintain social distancing.
Obviously, there are essential businesses that will continue to operate throughout this time period: grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, farmers markets, convenience stores, banks, laundromats, essential local, County and State government offices, etc.
Construction is going to continue. Electricians, plumbers, and others in the construction industry are deemed essential workers.
Childcare facilities will remain open.
Medical cannabis dispensaries, cultivators and distributors are considered essential under the healthcare and agriculture section of the State’s essential critical infrastructure guidelines. They will remain open.
For other essential businesses, see the State's full list, HERE.
Non-Essential Businesses MUST Close
With that said, there are IMMEDIATE closures of non-essential businesses that MUST take place in this community. The City is fielding a massive amount of phone calls because people are not complying with this order.
Effective immediately, hotels and short-term rental facilities MUST close, unless they are providing lodging to assist the homeless, providing lodging to assist someone that’s been displaced from their home because someone in their home is either quarantined with COVID-19 symptoms, or if they’re providing short term lodging for essential workers.
Those are the ONLY three ways that a hotel should be operational at this point. If you are not providing those types of services and have not been in touch with the County or the State with respect to providing those types of services, all operations at all hotels must cease immediately.
This also means that all spa services MUST close.
Massage services MUST stop.
Nail salons, hair salons MUST close.
Hotel pools, public pools, dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, fitness studios all MUST close.
Public events and gatherings CANNOT be taking place any longer.
At this point the open spaces in the public parks will remain open. However, all playground equipment will be closed. We will leave restrooms open in the park for the time being.
There is a seriousness to this that we need folks to understand.
These are mandates. This is exactly what you have to do.
The governor has said stay at home. That means stay at home.
Unless you are an essential business owner, you have to work at an essential business, or you have to go to grocery stores, get your prescription, or do essential things that you need in the community, you must comply.
Again, we are not asking you.
We are mandating that this take place per the governor’s order at this time.
This is an attempt to continue to taper the spread of COVID-19 so we do not completely overrun our healthcare facilities. We’re going to continue to say what we’ve said since the very beginning: We need to flatten the curve.
If you are any of those nonessential businesses that we continue to have issues with, we need you to comply. We take no pleasure in asking you to close your doors. We want our businesses to be operational, but the health and safety of our residents are our number one priority. If we can get through this, we can get everybody up and operational again. And until that time, we need folks to comply.
Given that this is a very serious situation, the City Council had a special meeting today to discuss the most pressing issues that we are facing here in Desert Hot Springs.
Overall, we are following the State orders and the mandates by the County Health, but we would like to respond to specific concerns from the community:
City Hall has received many requests and phone calls regarding what we can do for evictions. The City Council has decided to follow exactly what the County and State courts are doing at this time, which is to halt forwarding any evictions. If that is released in the future, the City Council will discuss that in the future.
SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF
The SBA can assist you with any questions regarding how you can qualify for the trillions of dollars that might be coming down from the federal level in the near future. As that legislation is released, City staff will then look through those bills and see how we can protect you and get you the relief that you need. Our Economic Development Director is also going to be looking for relief resources to help you in the future, so stay tuned to this website for the latest updates.
Residents have asked for a moratorium on rents and lease payments. That is not anything that the City Council and the City of Desert Hot Springs can do. That is not in our purview. That is a contract, which states by law that you have to continue to pay your rents and leases. There are a lot of people still working out there. You still have your responsibilities for your rents, leases, and mortgages. But for those of you that are not working, the Governor is going to do everything in his power to help offer relief. He’s already taken Step 1, which is an agreement with the mortgage companies, large banks, etc. So please follow the State website for information regarding that relief.
Locally, if you are having problems with food services and you need help, our Senior Center is open for phone calls at 760-329-0022. They have lunch programs, they have Meals on Wheels, and they have other programs that can assist you with getting food. For those of you who are not the senior age range, you can call Food Now at 760-288-7878, and that program can help qualify you for a drive-up program once or twice a week to pick up food. St Elizabeth’s pantry is open Tuesdays and Fridays. The school district is providing meal--breakfast and lunch--at locations available on their website. FIND Food Bank is here once a month on the second Monday at Painted Hills Middle School to offer food to the community.
If you have further questions, call City Hall at 760-329-6411and we’ll get you the proper information
In the meantime, we need your help. We’re all in this together. Thank you.