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Yet another COVID surge has San Diego businesses back on the brink

The latest COVID surge is raising new concerns for businesses flights have been delayed and business owners worry they won’t be able to survive another wave. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has more on the impacts.

Many were hoping the worst was behind them, but the emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant is again putting the breaks on business as usual in San Diego County.

Most recently, the impacts of the latest COVID-19 wave could be found at the airport. Both United and Delta airlines canceled flights over the holiday weekend due to spikes in cases among their employees.

And on a corner of San Diego’s Mission Hills neighborhood, Heartwork Coffee Bar is closed.


"Operating during COVID has been incredibly challenging," said Kimberly Moran, the owner of Heartwork Coffee Bar.

Heartwork Coffee Bar in San Diego is closed due to employees being exposed to COVID.
Kitty Alvarado / KPBS
A sign at Heartwork Coffee Bar in San Diego saying it is closed due to employees being exposed to COVID-19. Dec. 24, 2021.

Moran said she and several of her employees were recently exposed to COVID. This is the second time she’s had to close because of the pandemic.

"And it is just sort of exhausting to hit this stumble what seemed like was going to be the finish line but isn’t," she said.

Earlier this month Cal/OSHA, the state agency that regulates workplace safety extended and updated COVID protocols. Starting January 14, 2022, even vaccinated workers who are exposed will have to wear masks and stay socially distanced for 14 days.

Jerry Sanders, the president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said this will be nearly impossible for the struggling service industry to follow.


"This is just going to be another blow with people having to stay home for 14 days," he said. "So they can work remotely, but if you’re in a business where you need a server or you need a cash register attendant or you need somebody stocking ... it’s going to be very difficult."

Moran said she never questioned staying home to keep her community safe, but said businesses need more help than they're getting as they try to navigate what many call a new normal.

"I think that there’s a big push for us to live our lives and operate like everything is normal," Moran said. "And we have, like less than zero support financially from our city, county, state. I mean, the little help that was there is long gone."