Food truck

Food truck businesses such as the local Tailgater44 are now listed as ‘essential businesses’ under Sacramento County’s new stay-at-home order.

Sacramento County public health officials on April 29 announced they extended the county’s stay-at-home order for another three weeks in order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. This order will last until Friday, May 22, and it can be extended past that date.

As of May 1, Sacramento County had 1,090 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 42 deaths. Elk Grove had 90 infections and three deaths.

Under this order, the county will continue to prohibit residents from engaging in “non-essential” activities outside their homes. Businesses that also are considered to be non-essential cannot operate.

However, county officials loosened a few restrictions for certain businesses and recreation facilities.

Medical and dental care professionals can now perform preventative services and treat patients who have chronic conditions. People can view housing that’s available for rent or sale while the occupant is home. Non-contact sports facilities such as tennis courts and disc golf courses can open. Food trucks are now considered to be essential businesses.

“While there has been some relaxation of rules as they relate to recreational activities, it is absolutely vital that we maintain social distancing,” Dr. Peter Beilenson, the county’s health services director, said in a press statement.

He also said that his staff will review their county’s health data and testing capabilities before determining future changes to the stay-at-home order.

Sacramento County’s stay-at-home order has been in effect since March 19 when the county had 45 confirmed COVID-19 cases and public health officials declared that residents had to stay home as much as possible to stop the spread

On April 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced the state’s four-phase plan to gradually reopen California’s businesses when the state’s new infections flatten and then decrease. He said that the state could be a few weeks from entering the plan’s Stage 2, which would allow non-essential retail stores, factories, and schools to reopen.

Reactions from local

business owners to county order.

Dr. Bradley Yee, a dentist in Elk Grove, said that while he is excited about the idea of reopening his office under Sacramento County’s new order, he still has a major concern.

“Theoretically, we should be able to reopen this next week,” he said. “The problem that we’re encountering is that in order to do so, were supposed to be able to provide my staff enough personal protective equipment, and that is becoming very difficult to acquire.

“Things like government agencies and hospitals and things are actually first priority. So, we could actually open next week, but then we would probably run out of equipment (in about one week) and shut down again.”

Yee told the Citizen that his office put in their request for N95 face masks a month and a half ago, but has not received their shipment yet.

“That line (for those masks) extends across the country,” he said. “It’s not just Elk Grove, it’s not just California. It’s throughout the world in a lot of ways.”

Yee noted that since those face masks are not available in the United States, he had to place his order for masks from China.

Bernie Rondez, co-owner of the local food truck company, Tailgater44, said that it is important to him that food trucks were named as “essential” businesses in the county’s latest health order extension.

“Our early communication with the county, it was somewhat vague (regarding food trucks),” he said. “They provided a list and all we could do as operators was assume that we were somewhere in that list. It didn’t specify food trucks, but it spoke about food services.”

Rondez told the Citizen that having his business referred to in the order as “essential” is helpful, since some people questioned whether food trucks were allowed to operate during the stay-at-home order.

“It adds credibility to what we’re doing,” he said. “In the past, there were a lot of questions from some concerned citizens. ‘Are they supposed to be doing this?’ ‘Are they allowed to be doing this?’ And so, it added some relief for operators like us to actually say it’s publicly been put out there. They officially put food trucks on the list.”

Rondez added that prior to the stay-at-home order, his business was expecting a very successful season based on large gatherings that were scheduled this spring. But those events were either canceled or postponed.

“There was no question,” he said. “Our calendar year for 2020 was the busiest by far. With the recent shelter-in-place, it has pretty much devastated much of our business. So, reinventing ourselves has been a challenge.

“Much of the business environment has changed. We’re finding a lot of the teleworking has impacted several of the business clients that we normally visit for lunch, for example.”

To help reinvent themselves, Tailgater44 participated in the Food in the Hood events with other food trucks in Morse Park about a month ago.

Tailgater44 trucks will also be present to provide freshly prepared food at Wilton Wednesdays by the Wilton fire station on May 8 from 3 to 7 p.m,. and Saturday Supper in Old Town Elk Grove from 2 to 7 p.m.

Rondez stressed that social distancing practices are a required part of all of these events.