Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, local business owner react to California's endemic plan
California is officially into the endemic phase of the pandemic, as of Thursday, with the governor's SMARTER plan. The endemic label is a recognition the virus is not going away anytime soon and there is a way to balance COVID-19 transmission and impact.
"I’ll be honest — I’m just happy to move forward and see mandates and masks in the rear view mirror," said Eric Christiansen who owns Guava Beach Bar and Grill in Mission Beach.
The last two years have been a roller coaster ride and early restrictions meant Christiansen had to rethink his entire business model.
Aside from masking, which went away statewide for those vaccinated this week, there have not been many mandates in the last few months and businesses has been good.
"The future is impossible to predict," Christiansen said. "It does seem like this plan didn’t mention mandates or other things like that so I’m hoping we can put that in the past — maybe the powers at be have learned their lesson. Have learned what works what doesn't work and we can more forward with what will work for us so that it’s not going to detrimentally affects restaurants or businesses."
Gov. Gavin Newsom's SMARTER plan stands for shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education and "rx treatments" — prescription drugs.
Newsom said the state is moving from a crisis mindset and a reactive model to a more prepared and focused approach. His team also noted that early restrictions that limited capacity and closed businesses are hopefully a thing of the past.
"I think that the probability of any restrictions moving forward is highly unlikely because we now have the tools that are readily available," said San Diego County Supervisor's Chair Nathan Fletcher.
Fletcher supports the governor’s plan which calls for continued collaboration with local governments. He said time to get back to normal, but he recognizes COVID-19 is still out there.
"We’ll continue to make sure folks have access to vaccines and boosters and work with our healthcare systems — but again all of that is more in a state of endemic," Fletcher said. "A state of preparing for things we prepare for just like we prepare for the flu and other respiratory viruses."
Christiansen knows what the virus can do — he has had it twice.
"I got it early on, back in June of 2020 and it really hit me down pretty hard for about five or six days but I was able to get through it," he said. "And then again about a month ago I got the omicron even though I was tripled vaccinated but this time my only symptom was a scratchy throat for a day and a half."
There are some silver linings from COVID-19, like how San Diego businesses were allowed to extend operations to the sidewalk and street.
"San Diego is like probably one of the best places in the United States to have outdoor dining," Christiansen said. "It helped us significantly when we were shut down inside but moving forward that definitely a silver lining to make up some money from when the pandemic had a strangle hold on us."
Another bright spot for Christiansen is seeing more and more people looking for jobs.
"We’re getting ready to hire staff up for the spring and summer and I’ve been very pleased with the amount of applicants," Christiansen said. "So it seems like versus the past it seems like everyone is ready to get back into the workforce and get it going."
While universal masking is gone in California, people could be asked to wear them again.
The governor said science and equity will drive his endemic plan.