Bay Area business owners cautiously optimistic after stay-at-home orders lifted

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The governor’s lifting of shelter in place orders is allowing small businesses such as restaurants and hair salons to breathe a sigh of relief. 

The empty tables and chairs set-up outside will again be filled with customers and if you’re due for a haircut that will again be possible too but what are the chances things will rollback again? 

There is cautious optimism among small businesses here in the city such as restaurants. They’re glad to be moving forward in terms of reopening but there are still concerns about getting funding to stay operational and if these new COVID variants will throw a wrench into staying open. 

Restaurants with outdoor dining setups can again look forward to being open. 

People eating and drinking outside at establishments because the governor has lifted the statewide shelter in place orders.

The news encouraging but being approach cautiously.

“It’s just so uncertain still and everyone’s tired. I can feel it. I know there’s a lot of mental stress in our industry and there’s a lot of emotional stress on top of the financial stress, which adds to the mental stress,” Laurie Thomas with Golden Gate Restaurant Association said.

Limited reopenings at places like restaurants in San Francisco are expected later this week. 

The Bay Area will again be entering the purple tier as ICU bed capacity continues to trend in the right direction.

However, the region has rolled back once before and there are worries that it might happen again.

“It’s all going to be small, incremental changes where we have to balance doing harm from doing good,” Dr. George Rutherford said.

UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. George Rutherford says the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines should ease some fears about another shutdown.

He suggests remaining vigilant and not becoming complacent because of new COVID variants but he’s also confident things will continue to trend positively.

“I think the governor’s probably, reasonably certain of what they’re doing. I think the chances of there being much wider spread transmission are pretty small at this time,” Dr. Rutherford said.

Meanwhile, struggling small business owners have petitioned the governor to get to this point and they’re happy the time has arrived.

“All the restaurants get to run their businesses again and start paying bills so we’re just completely joyful,” Johnny Metheny said.

Before the joy, Johnny Metheny had to permanently close one of his restaurants because of the pandemic. 

Looking forward, he like other business owners are seeking transparency and evidence from the state’s health leaders on why certain restriction orders are being made.

“The people running the businesses deserve to see those numbers and understand what’s going on. As do the city officials, as does everybody,” Thomas said.

“Please, don’t shut down outdoor dining ever again,” Metheny said.

After getting not much help from Congress, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association says they need more funding from the state and the city to help keep these businesses open.

The bills have not gone away, not to mention there’s rain is the forecast for at least the next week so that will likely discourage people from dining out.

Reopening right now will be a process but most seem to argue it’s better than better to move forward than be completely closed.

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