More California businesses are getting ready for the summer season as they welcome back customers after spending most of the spring closed under the state’s stay-at-home orders.
Counties can move forward with the next stage of reopening, allowing bars, gyms, hotels, zoos, aquariums and museums to reopen Friday.
On changes for bars reopening
It'll look a lot different. If you've been out to eat since restaurants have reopened, the bar scene is likely to look a lot like that, with limited capacity, six-feet social distancing. The guidelines that the counties released are discouraging folks from gathering around bars. And it’s discouraging bars from holding the sort of events that used to bring in people in the past, like live music, trivia nights, that sort of thing.
On the impact of the coronavirus threat
Certainly I imagine a lot of people will not feel entirely at ease, as the county recently announced a surge in new cases. So there's concern about that. Along with these new rules, bars and all sorts of other businesses have to worry about things like hire workers' compensation expense. The state changed its standard for deciding workers' compensation claims of employees who've caught communicable diseases on the job. That adds even more pressure for the bars to follow the up-to-date standards in terms of safety and sanitation.
On the impact on businesses of the protests over George Floyd’s killing and police brutality
Yeah, I took a walk around downtown last night. It did look like some restaurants are getting ready to reopen already. There’s a lot of plywood up on windows. Restaurant owners expressed mostly a concern that this situation will add to the sense of danger their patrons may already have.
On challenges for bars and other businesses beyond reopening weekend
There have been commercial eviction moratoriums that prevented landlords evicting commercial tenants who were unable to pay rent for these last couple months. But they will eventually owe that money. I know there’s a lot of renegotiation going on between landlords and tenants. There are also a lot of complications out there in terms of the emergency funding that a lot of businesses took while they were closed. Things like the federal government's paycheck protection program. That was billed as money that was essentially a loan that was likely to be converted into a grant. But the rules around the conversion have been complicated and confusing to people. And there is some doubt whether those loans will be forgiven for a lot of businesses.
On changes for gyms reopening
Yeah, they are under a lot of these same rules requiring social distancing, limiting capacity. California Family Fitness based in Orangevale recently posted a YouTube video describing what their procedures are likely to be like. Basically, it included things like a long shutdown every afternoon for sanitation of facilities. So, again, that's another scene that's likely to feel a little bit different. And who knows? It's possible that some people won't feel comfortable going back to the gym. So business might be slow in that area, too, as well as for bars and restaurants.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
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