California is now asking Monterey County to reclose a number of businesses. It comes after the state placed Monterey County on its COVID-19 watchlist due to elevated COVID-19 transmission.
Erika Mahoney: KAZU’s Michelle Loxton joins me on the line to discuss what this all means. First Michelle, which businesses must close down again?
Michelle Loxton: In a tweet Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom asked a number of counties, including Monterey County, to close all indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos, museums and cardrooms. It is important to note that these are indoor operations. So some restaurants may be able to continue services if they have an outdoor space and follow guidelines for social distancing. But staying open will be much harder for movie theaters and museums that are exclusively indoors. Another sector that was ordered to close are bars and this is for both indoor and outdoor operations.
EM: How did Monterey County get to this stage where now it's taking a step back in the reopening process?
ML: Well, the state has a COVID-19 county watch list, which is essentially for counties that are not meeting the state’s standards when it comes to containing the spread of the coronavirus in their communities. Monterey County was put on that list last Thursday. Some of the factors that got the county on the list include having a positivity rate of more than 8 percent and seeing hospitalizations increase by more than 10 percent in recent days. The state said if Monterey County stayed on the list for 3 or more consecutive days, closures would be required. It did, and this is where we are today.
EM: How long will these closures stay in place?
ML: At least three weeks, which would be up until the last week of July.
EM: And what has local reaction been like?
ML: KAZU News spoke to Frank Geisler, CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. He says the reclosures will have a negative impact on the local restaurant industry.
“We were expecting probably 25 to 30 percent of restaurants not being able to reopen before this. So I don't know how much worse it will be, but it's going to be disastrous for the restaurant industry for sure,” said Geisler.
ML: We also spoke to JC Hill, the owner and brewmaster at Alvarado Street Brewery, which has several bar and restaurant locations across Monterey County. He says the reclosures will keep him up at night.
“It's probably going to cut our revenue into a quarter of what it was and what it was in the last months. You know, we were at 50 percent capacity. So it's a big hit to us. It's going to be very difficult. We're going to try our best not to furlough anyone,” said Hill.
ML: That’s just a few reactions from the local community on how re-closure will affect their businesses.
EM: That's KAZU’s Michelle Loxton. And this is KAZU News.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is now postponing its reopening, which was scheduled for this week. On Monday evening, Monterey County officials said an effective date for these changes is not yet known but that they would alert communities as soon as possible.
For more information on the reclosures, visit KAZU's COVID-19 blog. You'll also find local case numbers and resources on the blog.