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COVID-19 Purple Tier Would Clamp Down On Indoor Business Operations

Inside Bubs at The Beach in Pacific Beach, Sept. 18. 2020.

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Inside Bubs at The Beach in Pacific Beach, Sept. 18. 2020.

By next week, San Diego County could be in California's most restrictive tier for reopening during the pandemic.

Currently it's in the "red" tier, which allows for salons, tattoo shops, massage parlors, restaurants, gyms, churches, and museums to open at a limited capacity. In the "purple" tier, only hair salons/barber shops, retail and shopping centers can have indoor operations.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

"If we have to close our indoor operations — we may have to close our entire operation permanently," said Todd Brown who owns Bubs at the Beach in Pacific Beach. "We're down, this is it."

Brown has pivoted to outdoor dining during the pandemic, turning parking spaces into tables, but said it is not enough.

"It's not sustainable," he said. "That's our problem."

RELATED: Some San Diego Schools May Be Affected By Return To Purple Tier

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Roland Lizarondo

Brown said he feels backed into a corner and if indoor operations are forced to close next week he may decide to stay open.

"All I'm trying to do is survive as an operator. We’ve been a fixture for 22 years in Pacific Beach and if they close us down next week, and we choose to follow the mandate, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to open the doors again."

County health officials said our case rate is high because of more than 700 San Diego State students testing positive. County officials believe they have the outbreak contained to a small area around the university and are asking for a an exemption from the state to avoid going to the "purple" tier. But Governor Gavin Newsom himself has said "no."

"All we’re asking for is a fair shake," Brown said. "And we’re asking for the governor to hand the reins over our county board of supervisors."

At least four county supervisors have indicated they believe SDSU's cases should not be counted in our totals, and they could decide to take legal action ahead of our descent to the purple tier and it's restrictions.

"I would like the county to fight for us. I think me as a business owner is just more support financially has been the biggest issue," said Steven Land who owns Landform Fitness in the College Area.

Right now under the state's "red" tier, Land can have his gym open, but that could all change next week if he has to close.

RELATED: San Diego Reports 388 New COVID-19 Cases As County Considers Suing State

"It would be — I’m reaching the end and there’s not much more time I can keep winging this thing," Land said.

Land said his customers have been understanding with closures and he’s been able to move some classes online but it is just not sustainable.

"Something that I’ve worked my entire life to get to is just basically gone and I cant talk to anyone that has any answers for me," he said. Land also said he has been trying, unsuccessfully, for months to get an Small Business Administration loan.

San Diego County has already had one week of purple tier data. If that continues next week more restrictions will be coming. There are a few scenarios where that does not happen. First, cases could simply be low next week and keep us under the state requirement for the "purple" tier.

Despite already getting a "no" from the Governor, county officials are still lobbying the state to remove cases from SDSU. If that happened we would stay in the red tier. Finally, there could be action from the board next week. There is a closed session meeting of supervisors on Monday, where legal action could be taken. There is another special meeting on the books for Tuesday.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment 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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