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Mom And Pop Restaurant Prepares For San Diego County’s Purple Tier

Ruth Henricks, owner of The Huddle, sits at the bar of her restaurant in Miss...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Ruth Henricks, owner of The Huddle, sits at the bar of her restaurant in Mission Hills. Nov. 10, 2020.

Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, San Diego County will soon be moving to the state’s most restrictive “purple” reopening tier. The County’s health officials reported 483 new COVID-19 infections and seven deaths Tuesday, raising the region's total to 61,053 cases and 915 deaths.

Ruth Henricks, the owner of The Huddle restaurant in Mission Hills, is unsure how her restaurant will fare under the new restrictions. She bought The Huddle in 1986 with the goal of serving affordable meals to seniors.

“We — my children, work here basically, and grandchildren — we thank everyone that comes in here. Thank you for supporting us because you're keeping us going. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to do it,” said Henricks. “We’re in a place right now where obviously we’re not making the money we were making before this all started, but we’ve built up the business.”

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Matthew Bowler

But now that’s changing again. With news that San Diego County is going to the state’s purple tier, Henricks will have just a few days to close her dining room and revert to just takeout and limited outdoor seating.

“The problem with that is it rained last weekend, pouring on people. They were trying to get out of the rain and I don't know what this is going to mean,” said Henricks.

The Huddle also provides food for Henricks’ nonprofit called Special Delivery San Diego which is serving meals to more than 100 people in need a day.

“Yes I’m concerned about my income but I’m also concerned about them,” said Henricks

“I don't want to close down. I want to keep going. I’ve been able to have maybe half my staff back. The other half I can’t afford it right now and if we have to close down inside I don't know when I’ll be able to bring them back.”

Other than restaurants, many nonessential businesses will be required to move to outdoor-only operations. These include family entertainment centers, wineries, places of worship, movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, cardrooms and gyms.

RELATED: San Diego Gyms Prepare To Operate Outdoors Under Purple Tier

Amusement parks, and live audience sporting events are staying closed. Bars, breweries and distilleries will be able to remain open as long as they are able to operate outside and with food on the same ticket as alcohol.

Retail businesses and shopping centers will be able to remain open with 25% of the building's capacity. No food courts will be permitted.

Schools will be able to remain open for in-person learning if they are already in session. If a district has not reopened for in-person learning, it must remain remote only. Offices are restricted to remote work only.

Remaining open are essential services, personal care services, barbershops, hair salons, outdoor playgrounds and recreational facilities.

“The spread is out there ... but even with a sharpened focus on all of the efforts we’re doing around enforcement and stepping up our actions, it is going to take time,” said Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor and co-chair of the County of San Diego's COVID-19 Subcommittee.

Some business owners have said they plan to make the tough choice to defy the state’s mandate and stay open inside. County officials said they’re working with local police to try and increase enforcement for violators.

“No one wants to be punitive,” said Fletcher. “No one wants to close down business at all. The simple reality is we are now faced with an increased rate of spread that threatens our communities.”

San Diego County will have these new restrictions for at least the next three weeks. They go into effect Saturday, Nov. 14.

KPBS web producer Lara McCaffrey contributed to this report.


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