Businesses get green light to reopen services after lockdown
For the first time since November, the phone was ringing off the hook at Fairview Barbers in Goleta.
Owner Tim Carey and Barber Jennifer Castro spent most of the morning shifting between cutting hair and answering the phone, and within two hours of reopening, Mr. Carey said the barber shop’s appointment book was full.
“I could’ve used a secretary today,” Mr. Carey laughed.
After weeks of stay-at-home orders, personal care services were allowed to reopen Tuesday, following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Monday that the lockdown would be lifted.
The end of the lockdown means businesses can return to operations in the purple tier of restrictions. Under the purple tier regulations, personal care services are allowed to open at limited capacity and restaurants can seat customers outdoors.
“(Our customers) are extremely glad to see us open,” Mr. Carey said. “They’ve just been waiting and anticipating to be able to come in and enjoy the atmosphere at the barber shop again.”
The sudden ease in lockdown restrictions is prompting mixed reactions from the business community in Santa Barbara County.
While some business owners see the ease in restrictions as a chance to reconnect with their customer base, others are skeptical of the timing of the announcement.
“It’s ridiculous that (Gov. Newsom) is lifting the restriction for businesses to open in the cold weather and when hospitals are filled with people with COVID-19,” said Alfonso Curti, owner of Trattoria Uliveto in Orcutt.
Prior to Monday’s announcement, business owners were given little indication of when the lockdown would end. Jorge Salgado, owner of The Barber Shop in the 1200 block of State Street, said the announcement came “out of the blue,” and he’s been working to “wrap his brain around reopening” in the next couple of days.
“I’m ready to get back to business, but I’m also not because I want to make sure everyone is healthy,” Mr. Salgado said.
The Barber Shop plans to open at 25% capacity Thursday and is open for appointment only. Since the lockdown period, it has struggled to make ends meet without any customers.
“The whole shutdown has taken a toll on business, and I’m trying to keep this dream alive and keep the shop open,” Mr. Salgado said.
Mitchell Sjerven, owner of bouchon in Santa Barbara, said without any “forewarning” that the lockdown would be lifted, his restaurant could not open on Tuesday “even if they wanted to.”
Without an indication of how long the lockdown would last, Mr. Sjerven closed bouchon Dec. 31, letting go of his staff and diminishing inventory. Now that the restaurant can reopen, Mr. Sjerven said he is essentially “starting from scratch.”
“I think one of the hardest parts of the lockdown since last March has been the inconsistent messaging from the state,” Mr. Sjerven said.
Along with many other local business leaders, Mr. Sjerven has closely monitored the COVID-19 case totals in the region and has decided to proceed with caution when it comes to reopening. He has not yet decided on a definite date to reopen, but he plans to gauge how his staff feels about the current COVID-19 case numbers before proceeding.
“We are being cautious because numbers are still pretty high in the Santa Barbara area,” Mr. Sjerven said.
In other areas across Santa Barbara County, business owners have embraced the governor’s announcement with optimism.
Matt Wright, general manager of the Skyview Los Alamos motel, was excited to hear the announcement.
For months, Skyview’s heated patio and pool deck has been vacant, but with the ease of restrictions, hotel guests can now lounge by the pool and enjoy meals from the hotel’s restaurant, Norman, out on the patio.
During the lockdown, Skyview’s Norman restaurant offered pickup and delivery services, and they plan to continue to offer these services despite the option to dine at the restaurant.
While keeping precautions in mind, Mr. Wright believes the ease in restrictions will bring a boost to small businesses in the Los Alamos community.
“The businesses again have the opportunity to continue face-to-face interactions that we’ve developed, and we can give people what they really want, which is to go out and connect and eat,” Mr. Wright said.