Local businesses await decision on if San Diego County can join red tier

Local

ESCONDIDO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce on Tuesday that seven counties can advance out of the state’s most restrictive reopening tier.

Some local businesses are cautiously optimistic that San Diego County will be among them.

It would welcome news for Cassandra Schaeg after a rocky few months at her wine bar, Sip Wine & Beer in Escondido. She says her business is down some 80%, as she doesn’t have the space for outdoor dining, meaning they only can operate for takeout service.

But like many small businesses, she’s hoping to inch closer to the light at the end of the tunnel.

With COVID-19 numbers steadily improving as more Californians get the vaccine, Newsom likely will name the seven counties who can move into the less restrictive red tier with possibly others to follow in the coming weeks.

In the red tier, more businesses are allowed to operate indoors — including movie theaters, museums, zoos, among others — with restaurants allowed up to 25% capacity indoors.

“We want to step up get our kids back in school and get our businesses back open safely with modifications,” Newsom said during a Monday press conference.

Schaeg is proceeding cautiously, waiting to buy bundles of food until the word is handed down. But she acknowledges how such a change would impact revenue with more people going out to eat.

“We’re trying to rebuild so I’m a part of that rebuild, so I’m hopeful that this happens,” she said.

Also in the red tier, gyms are allowed to operate at up to 10% of their capacity indoors.

Johnny Hughes, owner of North County MMA and Ultimate Fitness, said he’s been keeping the gym’s garage doors open for outside air flow. He argues the capacity limit just isn’t enough for them.

“It’s not even worth it,” Hughes said. “That doesn’t even pay the water bill.”

Hughes said his business is down by about half, and allowing only a few customers indoors simply won’t cut it.

“25% would probably make a difference,” he said.

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