Business leaders in the city of Irvine spoke Thursday, May 12 during a Virtual Town Hall to discuss Irvine’s plans for business recovery. Irvine remains in Stage 2 of the state’s four-stage plan, but is eager to restart business in the city as quickly and safely as possible. 

The biggest takeaway from Thursday’s town hall was news that Irvine could potentially move into Stage 3 of California’s Resilience Roadmap as quickly as this weekend, depending on the governor’s decision, according to Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council.  

“I’m proud to share with you today that the county of Orange has met all of their requirements and is filing their Letter of Attestation to the state,” Dunn explained during her opening statements. “The governor’s offices will review it, then make a decision. We’re crossing our fingers that will be into the end of Stage 2 and get that next level of business opened this weekend.” 

The next level of businesses Dunn is referring to are ones the state has categorized as higher-risk workplaces, and include some dine-in restaurants, health care and entertainment. 

The virtual panel was led by Irvine Mayor Christina Shea and council member Melissa Fox, who were joined by Bryan Starr, president and CEO of the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce. 

Dunn said the OCBC has spent the pandemic connecting people with essentials, churning out daily informational newsletters to business owners, and assisting business owners toward a path to normalcy. 

Now, Dunn explains that the OCBC is focusing on providing guidance to business owners, as the state looks to move into Stage 3 on California’s Resilience Roadmap. 

“We need our business community to get prepared to reopen,” she said. 

Dunn pointed to a handful of resources currently available on the Orange County Business Council website that provide industry specific guidelines and requirements for businesses to begin reopening activities. As a part of reopening, all businesses will need to have approved plans for social distancing, cleaning and for touchless transactions. 

Each sector of the city is feeling the pressure of the pandemic-caused economic downtown. The city is in need of an economic jumpstart, and Bryan Starr said the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce is working on solutions that will help reinvigorate Irvine as the travel and hospitality hub it once was. 

“Our business community is struggling, our hotels are closing,” he explained. “We’re looking at, through Destination Irvine, to figure out how do we reposition ourselves as a destination, how do we reopen ourselves quickly as a destination for events, programs and marketing. All of those things are very very challenging for us right now.” 

A large part of Irvine’s economic recovery will be assisted by The Irvine Company, which owns several retail center in the city, all of which have been properly outfitted with sanitation stations, space for social distancing and rigorous cleaning protocols, according to Ken Gillette, Senior Vice President Operations of Irvine Company Retail Properties.

“Now that we’ve moved into Stage 2 of State 3 opening plan we’ve had new merchants every single day. As of today, we have nearly 500 of our merchants in the city of Irvine open, serving the community,” he said.