In October 2020, the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, from Goleta to Carpinteria, embarked upon writing a Roadmap to Recovery for the business community. As we helped our businesses navigate the ever-shifting, confusing, and often contradictory series of guidelines on how to operate, we were determined to provide a thoughtful, researched, consensus-based plan of action for our members and the business community.
The Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce drafted this plan to map a course for recovery, based on efforts over the next 6 months and beyond, and as long as it takes for our businesses to recover. We have endeavored to establish realistic goals for business opening, tourism growth, manufacturing output, customer visits, financial improvements, and the return of the workforce. We are focused on getting the Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria businesses back on their feet and thriving, and to offer resources wherever they are needed.
This is a business-community focused plan, featuring tactics and milestones that will help us through and out of the economic crisis. We encourage other communities to adopt elements of this plan, or adopt the plan entirely if it is beneficial, to help re-establish a vibrant economy in communities far and wide.


We have learned a lot about successfully dealing with the virus and how businesses can operate safely and keep their employees and customers safe.

The Chamber is recommending businesses operating with the COVID Safety 5-Step Method, should be allowed to operate.  Recommendations from the CDC and the County’s attestation process confirm these five steps have been determined as the most effective responses to operating safely.

Click here for the Roadmap to Recovery Executive Summary

Click here for the Roadmap to Recovery Report

COVID Safety 5-Step Method:

  • Mask Requirements:  Everyone should wear a mask because they are proven to work. Plan to wear masks until at least June.
  • Sanitize: Continue to implement strict cleaning procedures. Minimize touch, wipe down surfaces, use hand sanitizer and have it readily available.
  • Social Distancing:  Everyone should keep a minimum of 6 feet apart at all times however we recommend adopting a 10 feet apart rule.  Affix directional and distance signage to indicate rules and processes to adhere to this policy. Shaking hands and gathering are not allowed. Finally, monitor the number of people in an establishment and minimize unnecessary contact to less than 15 minutes.
  • Ventilation Needs: Maintain proper ventilation inside and, whenever possible, conduct business outside. For all businesses that operate inside, use newly proven ventilation methods that clean the air.
  • Plexiglass and Barriers:  We recommend that all businesses utilize barriers, like plexiglass or plastic curtains, to add an extra level of protection. This is also a useful tool to reenforce social distancing.

*The recommendations above at the Chamber’s recommendations, not current County guidelines. The Chamber’s recommendation is that these guidelines are enough, and we will continue to work with County officials to request changes to the County guidance and regulations.

Goals and Timeline for Back to Business

The Chamber is proposing a timeline for recovery.  We need markers and dates to give us hope and an ability to plan.  In the next 6 months, we have the following recommendations for milestones:

  • Immediately: Ensure elected officials include all available data when making policy decisions – considering the economic and social impacts on our communities – not just virus and public health data.
    • The Chambers of Commerce in Santa Barbara County are asking all of our local government officials to introduce a resolution expressing support for allowing businesses to operate safely as part of a balanced approach to eliminating the pandemic without sacrificing other aspects of personal and community well-being.
    • We have also asked to start presenting economic, jobs and community data to the Board of Supervisors once a month. 
  • February 1-March 31, 2021: Businesses should be allowed to operate if they are following the COVID Safety 5-Step Method: masks, handwashing/sanitization, social distancing, ventilation and plexiglass. No other guidelines are needed.
    • All businesses should be able to plan and prepare for their re-opening during the next 60 days as they are able use the COVID Safety 5-step Method. The county should continue to give support, approve attestations, and provide all local guidance, with guidelines and enforcement returning to the local level. This includes schools, theaters, recreation and small group travel. Rather than a confusing set of percentages and guidelines, businesses can do the math of how many customers they can accommodate and still abide by social distancing guidelines of 6 feet of separation. 
  • March 1, 2021: Schools should be able to open using the same COVID Safety 5-Step Method.
    • By March 1st, California’s shut down order would have been lifted for more than one month, we will be past the winter spike, we have 12-months of best practices and data to learn from, and it gives our students a good amount of time back in class. Waiting much longer than this timing causes people to lose hope that schools will reopen this year and it prevents our community from starting to rebuild until at least the fall.
    • We are supporting the Santa Barbara Unified School District and Goleta Union School District in their request to be allowed to open, since their neighboring districts Cold Spring Elementary, Hope School District, Carpinteria Unified School District, and Montecito Union school District, have been open and operating on a hybrid schedule successfully.
    • As with business, State regulations need to adapt to local circumstances 
  • April 30, 2021: Everyone in our community that wants to get vaccinated should be able to be vaccinated. The Chamber is supporting every effort the State and Public Health are making to distribute vaccines. Local hotels are willing to use their ballrooms and facilities if space is needed. This may be an ambitious goal, but we think we should strive to support our communities in moving as fast as possible to get everyone vaccinated.
    • While we support, as everyone does, an accelerated timeline for getting the vaccine out, we do not support changing re-opening plans for businesses or schools based on the timeline of vaccines.  They should run concurrently.  All plans for recovery have been built around reducing transmission of the virus and that should continue as the vaccine is distributed.
    • The timeline for school re-opening should not be tied to new metrics around vaccine distribution.
  • May 31, 2021: Embracing small group travel. Small business meetings, weddings and gatherings should be permitted following standard safety protocols and best practices.
    • Hotels need to be able to start booking some group travel as long as they can comply with safety guidelines. Arts and culture can safely adapt to having small groups.  Adopting this timeline allows planning now for the summer months.
    • Our communities should be ready by summer to safely allow some gatherings as the emotional, social, and psychological change this will provide is critically important.  The resulting economic vitality connected with small group events is of highest priority to recovery in our communities.