‘The virus is one issue and our economy is the other’: Some businesses temporarily close, others remain open amid coronavirus outbreak
As the social distancing policy takes effect, and more people self-quarantine for protection amid the first reported case of the coronavirus in Nevada County, many local businesses are doing what they can to stay open.
Between enhanced sanitization measures, creating more space between patrons and ramping up delivery service and curb-side orders, local restaurants and small businesses are trying to continue serving customers — some trying to prevent themselves from closing indefinitely.
“We’re just trying to still get people in here,” said Ryan Thomas, co-owner of The Pour House in downtown Grass Valley. “We’re just trying to stay afloat ourselves right now.”
Jerry Cirino, owner of Cirino’s at Main Street, said he’s trying to do all he can to both stay open and help out his employees by offering financial support, helping to drop off medicine for their relatives and supplying them with firewood for their homes.
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“My priority is first to my staff and their families,” he said. “We’re here as a group and we’ll get through this together.”
Cirino said he’s enacted everything from the Centers for Disease Control advisory guide list at his restaurant, and had county environmental health official Amy Irani review his building, to keep his patrons safe.
Although it’s necessary for people to remain physically distanced from others, Cirino said this is when people need to help one another most, even if it’s only through the telephone.
“It really is a time for people to come together and help,” he said.
Some, whether due to the inclement weather or the virus, were closed to walk-ins on Monday. Williams Stationery, Pete’s Pizza, Tess’ Kitchen Store and City Council cafe were all closed. Nevada City’s Industrial is closed “until further notice.” The Center for the Arts has postponed or rescheduled many of its upcoming events. The Miners Foundry has followed a similar path.
Some businesses, however, like Grass Valley’s Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, have been doing fine — except for carrying less toilet paper products and cleaning supplies.
“We’ve been really blessed,” said store manager Dawn Marie Crookston. “We feel very fortunate that people choose us.”
Valentina’s Organic Bistro & Bakery in Grass Valley is also doing well for the time being, according to co-owner Valentina Masterz.
While the virus’ spread is a concern, Masterz said she hopes people don’t worry because “fear brings your immune system down.”
Despite the recent call from Gov. Gavin Newsom to close bars and wineries, both McGee’s in Nevada City and Gary’s Place in Grass Valley were open Monday.
HELP FOR MAIN STREET?
For some small businesses trying to prevent themselves from closing and others from sinking into poverty, owners and operators expressed a need for both them and residents — many of them their employees — to get some form of subsidy or financial assistance from the federal or state government.
“They will have to do something or no one will pay anything anymore,” said Rita Fuenzalida, co-owner of Nevada City’s Java John’s, which remained open Monday. “The virus is one issue and our economy is the other.”
But despite the need, Fuenzalida said she wasn’t holding her breath, considering other federal bail outs that went to corporate banks and automotive companies but didn’t reach smaller businesses. Locally, small businesses haven’t seen any assistance since the hits they’ve taken from the PG&E power shut-offs.
“The small businesses all take it in the shorts,” said Fuenzalida. “It’s just the big companies that get bailed out.”
Jerry Cirino was upset Newsom hasn’t mentioned help for small businesses.
Both federal Democratic and Republican representatives have drafted legislation to give Americans cash considering the recent financial difficulties.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has called for every American adult to receive $1,000, according to Vox, and two House Democrats have issued a proposal to give between $1,000 and $6,000 for Americans earning less than $65,000 per year.
In Sacramento, state senators have issued legislation preventing small businesses from being evicted from not paying rent during this time, according to CBS Sacramento.
But like Fuenzalida, Alon Greenstein, owner of Grass Valley’s Meze, is “not expecting it to happen.”
“There’s no caring” for the common citizen, he said.
The restaurant owner has made Meze take-out only. He said his shop may temporarily close to wait out the virus.
Marni Marshall, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association, said she’s working to “expedite the process to get assistance to businesses.”
At this point, she doesn’t know what that assistance might be.
To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4219.
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