South Bay businesses brace for potential indoor closures as virus case rate rises


CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Facing the prospect of more pandemic-related closures, San Diego business owners held their breath Wednesday in anticipation of the latest from county public health officials.

“I’m just a little emotional today,” said Snooky Rico, owner of Rico’s on 3rd, a salon in Chula Vista.

For now, all will be able to stay open.

In a news conference, officials reported the local case rate at 6.9 per 100,000 people, which keeps San Diego County in the state’s red tier for reopening. If the rate climbs any higher, the county likely would drop back into the state’s more restrictive purple tier, meaning many businesses again will need to shut down indoor operations.

“We could move up, we could move down, but you have to have two consecutive weeks of data in that area before you officially move and the changes and posture take effect,” County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

That could be a tough pill to swallow for local businesses. According to a recent Chula Vista city survey of some 600 small businesses, 60% said they couldn’t survive if closures last another six months.

“I don’t want to give up,” Rico said. “I want to keep our business. We have been doing this for 45 years.”

At Chula Vista’s Grindhouse coffee shop, owner Ron Richie is awaiting what the case rate will look like next week once the tests from Labor Day are reported. He’s hoping there won’t be a spike.

“That is a fear, that people are getting comfortable and relaxing mask usage,” Richie said.

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