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San Diego Business Owners Weigh Compliance With Closure Orders

Business owners protest outside of the San Diego County Administration buildi...

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Business owners protest outside of the San Diego County Administration building, Sept. 21, 2020.

Starting Saturday morning restaurants, gyms and churches have to stop indoor operations after an increase in COVID-19 cases.

"It’s just not justified," said Peter San Nicolas who owns Ramona Fitness Center in the East County. San Nicolas is one of many business owners weighing whether to comply with closure orders this weekend.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

"So we can just close down and possibly go out of business — for a lot of people that’s what that’s going to mean — or you could stay open and yes, go against the orders and maybe still be put out of business," he said. "So what’s the risk? We could fail either way, what do we have to lose?"

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

Reported by Matt Hoffman

In August, San Nicolas was charged by the San Diego County District Attorney for violating a different closure order, but those charges were later dropped. He's since joined other San Diego County gyms in a lawsuit against the state arguing that restrictions are crippling his business.

"I was getting to a point where, OK, if we get through this year and then we get through a good time of year with January, February, March, like New Years people coming back — I’ll be able to see; are we going to make it?" San Nicolas said, adding that in the last two months he's seen an increase in membership.

"Now with this shutdown, I don't know. But I’m not going to quit."

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

Down the road at Momma Ramona's restaurant co-owner Andrew Simmons was getting ready to close his dining room ahead of restrictions hitting Saturday.

"I would love to stay open but I don't think the county will allow us, and I can't afford to have my restaurant shut down," he said. "I have fixed monthly expenses every month — whether we’re open or closed — and if I’m closed all my folks are out of jobs and I have no income coming in."

Simmons bought the Italian eatery weeks before the pandemic hit in March.

"We haven’t made money since buying the restaurant — it’s been a loss for us every month," he said.

Simmons' has taken on a new challenge to supplement the restaurant's losses. Selling returned Amazon items.

"Those sales actually help supplement our regular sales so we’re only losing $5,000 or $10,000 a month compared to $25,000 or $30,000," Simmons said.

Business owners are planning another “Reopen San Diego Rally" outside the San Diego County administration building on Monday evening. There, people plan to demand local control over coronavirus closures and restrictions.

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Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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