Restaurants, salons readying for imminent stay-at-home order

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SAN DIEGO — Local businesses and residents braced for a shutdown triggered late Friday as ICU capacity in Southern California dropped under the state’s threshold.

The state-mandated “regional stay-at-home” order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, triggered when intensive-care unit bed availability in the Southern California region remained below 15% after Saturday’s daily update, according to the California Department of Public Health.

As a result, many businesses are left to make necessary adjustments to stay afloat.

“Obviously, it’s always a shocker,” said Brad Wise, owner and executive chef of San Diego-based Trust Restaurant Group. “We kind of heard some chatter that it was going to happen, but it’s one of those feelings, you think you’re ready for it until it actually happens.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new regional stay-at-home order Thursday that was expected to quickly take effect amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state. The state reported 22,018 new confirmed cases Thursday with a seven-day positivity rate of 8.5%.

San Diego County reported a new single-day record of 2,039 new COVID-19 infections Friday with 791 patients hospitalized and 216 in the ICU.

The number of patients with COVID-19 in San Diego County hospitals has increased dramatically compared to one month ago. There were 297 people hospitalized with the virus on Nov. 3. The 791 patients hospitalized as of Friday was more than double the previous peak in mid-July.

In anticipation of the changes, Wise said they’re merging some of their restaurants into a single location for takeout-only service. He said the hardest part is letting people go, but this time it stings even more coming just before the holiday season.

Prior to the pandemic, Wise said the company — which owns five restaurants, including The Wise Ox and Rare Society — had about 250 employees. Facing another closure, he said they’ll soon be down to 20 employees.

“I’ve been working with these people, some of them up to 10 years and then I’m handing them a check and I know they have a family at home and there’s nothing I can do,” he said.

Sean Hale, general manager of El Cruce+241 in Chula Vista, said while the restaurant was anticipating changes, it’s still difficult and challenging.

“Nonetheless, we’ve already got our online ordering page up and running so all the takeout orders, we are going to try to hustle,” Hale said. “We are going to make do, make it work, and we will still roll with the punches and do our best under any circumstances.”

This year has been challenging for salon owner Cyrena Potenziani, too.

“We have been closed consecutively for almost five months this year, that is basically 50% loss of revenue,” Potenziani said.

She’s owned Gloss Hair Studio in 4S Ranch for three years and said waiting to see if they’d have to shut down again felt like a dark cloud was looming. Since Newsom announced the possibility of another closure, she said clients have been calling nonstop to book appointments.

“We are trying to get as many people in as possible and making sure that our clients are taken care of,” she said.

Asked if she could come back from another closure, she said she would, “because I’m not a quitter.”

“I’m going to come back better, stronger, more capable of dealing with situations like this,” she said.

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