Business Owners Fear California’s Second Lockdown Could Be Last Straw

December 12, 2020 Updated: December 12, 2020

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—California’s second lockdown has been implemented for parts of the state.

Starting Dec. 5, all forms of restaurant dining were closed except for takeout. This includes bars and wineries. Personal care services like hair salons and barbers will also close.

Private gatherings are prohibited, and retail may operate at only 20 percent capacity. The lockdown will last until Jan. 4 next year.

The order is triggered in each region after ICU bed capacity drops to 15 percent in that region.

Businesses have been struggling to stay open, but now some say this could be the last straw.

“We had some essential workers like a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, but we didn’t understand that at the beginning, so we ended up losing one of our only chiropractors because she went to a different place to do her work while we were boarded up. So we ended up losing some employees,” Lisa Alberino, founder of La Barre Studios, told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
La Barre Studios, marked with blue dots six feet apart, sits empty in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2020, after the state’s strict lockdown order. (David Lam/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Lisa Alberino, owner of La Barre Studios, in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2020. (David Lam/The Epoch Times)

Her family-owned fitness studio in Santa Clara County has been open for two and a half years. She started seeing profit early this year before the first lockdown. This is her third time closing, and she has had to adapt to the changing requirements each time.

“We had to find an outdoor place to do our classes, so we’ve been kind of like the nomad,” she said.

Alberino is friends with the owner of Luna Mexican Kitchen, which is one block away. Due to the new mandates, the restaurant had to close outdoor dining, which was set up under a large tent in its parking lot. Alberino asked to use the lot for her fitness classes, and the owner agreed.

Brian Hinojosa, manager at Ike’s Sandwiches, told The Epoch Times: “Our business was okay until today. Today it declined a lot. We didn’t see that [much] traffic, foot traffic, meaning people that come in and out. We did kind of see the same on apps, but foot traffic definitely slowed down.”

Epoch Times Photo
People get takeout at Luna Mexican Kitchen in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2020. (David Lam/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Chairs are stacked and heat lamps are gathered to be put away at Luna Mexican Kitchen in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2020. (David Lam/The Epoch Times)

Anti-Lockdown Protests in LA

In Los Angeles, people gathered outside the home of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl in Santa Monica on Dec. 5. They protested against the lockdown and demanded that all businesses be allowed to reopen.

“Sheila Kuehl said it was the most dangerous thing, and that’s why they had to shut down outdoor dining. But the movie production got a permit to do outdoor dining for almost 200 people, and a catering truck,” Angela Marsden, owner of Pineapple Hill Grill & Saloon, told NTD News.

She had to build her own dining area in her parking spaces. She was finally seeing a profit in October, but then the restaurant was shut down again in November.

She has been trying to hold off on closing completely so her employees can receive a paycheck. But operating solely on takeout isn’t helping to pay rent, so she is forced to close.

“I have one bartender that has a three-year-old, that can’t pay her rent. She only knows how to bartend and serve. She doesn’t know how she’s going to eat, pay her rent, right before Christmas. That’s just one employee, walking through that and seeing that she’s getting her last paycheck. It’s outrageous,” Marsden said.

“Before COVID, we would do $15,000 a weekend. This weekend so far, for the last three days, we’ve done like $1,700,” Allen Adams, owner of Paragon Bar and Grill, told NTD News. “Even when we were dining outside, we would have enough money to at least pay the bills, pay the employees, and they were able to make some extra income because most people in the restaurant business that are employees rely, especially the front house, rely on their tips. And now you can’t afford to pay them, so we don’t have them on right now, so they don’t get the opportunity to get those tips.”

The order currently applies to Southern California, San Joaquin Valley, parts of the Bay Area, and the Greater Sacramento area.

With reporting by NTD News, Los Angeles.