Jul 172020
South Bay, Harbor Area businesses, churches react to having to shut indoor operations again
Trinity Lutheran Church in San Pedro just recently began holding outdoor, socially-distanced services. Under the governor’s directive issued Monday, July 13, indoor church services are included on a re-closure list.

In the South Bay, the news about another round of closures on Monday, July 13, wasn’t a surprise. But it hit like a sledge hammer.

And it left local businesses and religious institutions scrambling — again — after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced churches, gymnasiums, non-essential offices,malls, and personal care services, such as salons, tattoo parlors and spas, must once again stop indoor operations.

Elise Swanson, president and CEO of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, said the news would crush some small businesses.

“This revolving door of reopening and closing will tank our small businesses,” she said. “It’s not sustainable.”  TOP ARTICLES1/5READ MOREClippers’ preparation seeks to incorporate new guys,new experience

The governor’s announcement Monday also extended orders he issued on July 1 that once more closed bars and indoor operations at restaurants and wineries, saying the data suggests not everyone is “practicing common sense.”

“We’re right back to March,” said James Brown, owner of San Pedro Brewing Co. “How are we going to dig out of this?”

Newsom’s order applied to 30 counties with rising numbers, including Los Angeles. LA County, after slowly reopening several industries in multiple phases, has seen daily new cases and hospitalizations increase over the past several weeks. That has forced a roll back of openings — with bars once again shuttering a little more than a week after being allowed to resume operations.

In LA County, Public Health officials said they will amend the county’s Safer at Home order to close indoor operations at the businesses Newsom listed during his announcement.

“We had hoped that our safety protocols would be enough to keep this virus at bay and allow businesses to reopen,” county Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a written statement. “These closures are disappointing, but they seem to be necessary to prevent our hospitals from being overrun. Until we get a vaccine or an effective treatment, right now people really are safer at home.”

Ben Valenzuela, who is the general manager at UFC Gym in Torrance, said that business reopened on June 13.

It’s all been stressful for staff, members and the community, he said.

“After nearly 3 months of lock down,” Valenzuela said in an email, many of the gym’s members “had the courage to come back and get back into routine.

“Now, those that have been back on routines (or) just started new ones are now being asked to stop the one thing that has given them a purpose each day to look forward to,” he added. “It’s very stressful times for everyone.”

Torrance’s Del Amo Fashion Center, meanwhile, still boasted on its website, “We’re Open, Let’s Get #BackTogther”  on Monday afternoon, despite the governor’s order. Del Amo is one of the biggest drivers of the economy in the South Bay, and its initial closure during the first months of the pandemic, hit Torrance hard.

No one answered the telephone at the mall offices Monday and officials did not respond to an email seeking comment. But workers who picked up the phone at Nordstrom and Book Off — which sells used books, DVDs and other media — both said they were open for the time being.

At the South Bay Pavilion, in Carson, a receptionist on Monday afternoon said management was still working out what the governor’s order means for the mall and couldn’t yet speak about the announcement.

Monique Ursich was cleaning up at her San Pedro hair salon Monday morning when she received calls about the governor’s announcement.

“We were fully booked because we’ve been operating about eight weeks behind,” Ursich said.

Her salon, Bird Cage Beauty Parlour, had been shut down from late March until June 2, when salons were allowed to reopen.

The business, she said, was careful to follow all the protocols for masks, cleanings and social distancing.

“We were just grateful and willing to do whatever we could to remain open,” she said.

“You feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster,” Ursich added, saying moving salon operations outdoors poses all kinds of challenges. “It’s been a lot and we’ve done our best to follow everything. I feel like maybe if the rules were being followed across the board, whether people agree with it or not, we wouldn’t be in this place.”

For churches, the new directive comes after some congregations had just begun venturing back into in-person Sunday services.

“What can I say?” said the Rev. Nathan Hoff, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church that has had three outdoor, socially distanced services in recent weeks. “Communities are fragile. Even if there’s a desire to get together, there seem to be realistic fears involved so there are mixed feelings.”

In his case, the church meetings already have been moved outdoors so they can continue. Decisions on whether to meet in person are made on a week-to-week basis, he said, depending on the status of cases.

“We ache to be together,” Hoff added, “but we also have an understanding why it may not be the best idea right now.”

The Los Angeles Archdiocese said in a written statement that it is currently evaluating the directives from the governor and the counties. The archdiocese said it was awaiting the local order before updating guidelines and directions for parishes.

Swanson, the head of the San Pedro chamber, said she was saddened to hear of the governor’s announcement, adding new “safe” shopping programs were being formulated statewide.

“I run a small business and it’s unsustainable to keep doing this opening and closing,” she said. “I think this is going to be devastating. I don’t see how some of our businesses will survive.”

Brown, for his part, said his restaurant recently went though a quarantine, testing and deep cleaning after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. He said he plans to reopen on Wednesday, July 15, with outdoor service.

“My thought is this is going to keep happening,” Brown said. “But we’re just going to keep slugging away.”

Via Daily Breeze – Staff writers Nick Green and Tyler Shaun Evains contributed to this report.

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