Businesses take advantage of final days before Sunday’s lockdown
Contra Costa County, California – Katie Coakey works as a stylist at Permanent Solutions salon in Clayton. This weekend she booked as many clients as she could before the new Stay-At-Home Order takes effect at 10 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.
“This is disappointing,” she said. “Things have been going along good. We’ve been complying – everyone wearing masks and distancing.”
Contra Costa County is joining four other Bay Area counties in a new lockdown in an effort to slow the number of coronavirus cases and subsequent hospitalizations.
“We are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations here in Contra Costa County and across our region,” county health officer Dr. Christopher Farnitano said when the order was announced on Dec. 4.
“The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in our county has doubled in just the past couple of weeks,” he added. “We are at risk of exceeding our hospital capacity later this month if current trends continue.”
Under the new Stay-At-Home order, restaurants must close both indoor and outdoor dining – offering only takeout and delivery. All retail stores can stay open at 20 percent capacity. Private and charter schools that have reopened for in-person classes can remain open as can all “critical infrastructures.” Outdoor religious ceremonies may also continue.
Full closures affect bars, wineries, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, personal care services, playgrounds, indoor recreation facilities, casinos, museums, zoos, aquariums, movie theaters, sports events with live audiences and amusement parks.
Private gatherings of any size are prohibited, and people are to stay at home except for essential activities such as going to the doctor, grocery shopping or picking up meals. Distanced outdoor exercise such as hiking and biking are permitted.
Coping with a new closure
Judi Green, who opened the Groveside Bistro in Clayton during the pandemic, is pretty philosophical about the new rules.
“If it’s time to close, it’s time to close,” she said. “I just want to keep the community safe.”
Green had only been serving four people inside the small restaurant, plus six tables on the sidewalk out front. She is closing at 2 p.m. Sunday, switching to takeout and deliveries through the Chow Now app so she can control how much business she is doing at one time.
She only purchased a few heaters to accommodate her sidewalk service but says she’s sympathetic to restaurants that have made a big investment in outdoor infrastructure.
“It’s a hard time to be in business,” she told the Pioneer.
“Frustrating,” Coakley added. “But, it is what it is.”
The Bay Area order was instituted even before the counties dropped below the 15 percent availability of ICU beds established last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Areas affected by the rules are the counties of Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Alameda and the city of Berkeley.
“We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency brake,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s health officer. “We understand that the closures under the state order will have a profound impact on our local businesses. However, if we act quickly, we can both save lives and reduce the amount of time these restrictions have to stay in place, allowing businesses and activities to reopen sooner.”
The plan is in effect until Jan. 4, at which time officials will reevaluate the data.
“It takes several weeks for new restrictions to slow rising hospitalizations,” noted Dr. Tomás Aragon, San Francisco’s health officer. “Waiting until only 15 percent of a region’s ICU beds are available is just too late. The time to act is now.”