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Carlsbad businesses in flux amidst COVID-19 spikes, new health orders

CARLSBAD — Remote working has spared countless businesses from going under during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, for those with essential workers required for in-person working, a spike in coronavirus cases and trying to stay nimble with changing health orders, are sources of frustration.

Many are trying to survive, not only from a business perspective but to keep food on their family’s tables, according to Bret Schanzenbach, CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, and Christine Davis, executive director of Carlsbad Village Association.

“The restaurants have actually done an incredible job of activating their outdoor spaces,” Davis said. “I’m seeing robust business in restaurants. The personal service industry has been decimated. That has been very emotional and sad to watch.”

On July 20, though, Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed for barbers, nail salons and hairdressers to operate outside after closing them down several weeks ago. Still, the economic damage has been done, and Davis said when those orders for salons came “it took out the wind in my sails.”

Davis said those businesses have been crushed by two shutdowns, leading to frustration of how the county and state is handling the response. With the new orders, there may be hope for many of them to survive.

“Even though salons, barbers, and estheticians have been given the green light to move some services outside, it’s not practical for all and only applies to some,” Davis added. “Their industry still has challenging times ahead if they are required to stay closed much longer.”

Schanzenbach said it has grown to a point where some business owners are defying orders to close. Davis, meanwhile, said she has not seen or heard of any businesses in the village defying health orders.

He said those business owners have no other source of income, and with federal unemployment funding in question, they are fighting to stay alive.

Both Davis and Schanzenbach said their message is simple: to keep the economy open, wear a mask, wash hands thoroughly and socially distance. Schanzenbach said there is also a fear among a number of business owners following the guidelines, while some customers may not.

Those challenges not only put an employee’s safety at risk but injects a negative charge toward a business.

“When this started, there was a universal sense of this was going to be a collective pause … and then return to business as usual after two or three weeks,” Schanzenbach said. “Then it stretched out. Thankfully things started to open back up and get going on, but now that things have pulled back there is a difference. This is definitely different than March.”

As for the city, Davis said on July 28 the City Council will hear an item to open State Street to businesses. The proposal calls for closing off the street between Grand Avenue and Carlsbad Village Drive as a makeshift promenade, although the details are still being finalized for the council, she said.

Regardless, the situation is coming to a head, the pair said, as federal funds are running dry. Schanzenbach said there is still some money in the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), but did note the first round of funding left many small businesses on the outside looking in.

Congress redefined the number of employees in the CARES Act from 50 to 500 to be classified as a small business.

The second round was better, Schanzenbach said, but still, people are in jeopardy of losing their livelihoods and being on the hook for repayment of the PPP if they can’t get staffing levels back to where they were.

He stressed the importance of “masking up” and for residents to look out for their neighbors.

“There is a palpable concern and fear on the business owner side that people that are fed up and not wearing the masks are going to cause additional spikes,” Schanzenbach added. “Causing them to go out of business. The business owners are worried. If they’re not doing the little part they can do, that perception from the public health officials could drive more closures.”

4 comments

Being Fair Rules July 26, 2020 at 6:55 am

I have been following the meetings re: opening State Street and the makeshift promenade. So far the details are really strong and I support it. It would be a perfect model to experience and learn from, while simultaneously, continuing to see how certain facets of it could apply to other retail and shopping areas throughout Carlsbad. The July 28 meeting will be another critically important meeting.

Being Fair Rules July 26, 2020 at 6:40 am

I agree with the article content. My concerns have been hand-in hand with what is brought up here. The business owners are fully reasonable with all their specific concerns. I continue to wonder: “What about creating a group of non-paid volunteers or enhancing a group of unpaid, volunteers of us ordinary citizens to simply actively walk, enter, exit businesses in the most genuine of positive manner–walk the residential, recreational and business areas and discretely report non-mask wearers. (No uniforms or badges at all). It may be the budget- friendly and a solid fractional piece of the solution. The non-following of the rules by people in the public enormously bothers me, too. Businesses owners and the issue of unemployment is fully embedded in all of it.
All people in this city have all the specific knowledge to care and there are both residents and visitors who care less.

It is right in our face how easy it would be to wear one multi-layer strong mask or two cheaper masks in order to have the levels of protection to stop all types of infecting or getting it (physical distancing too).. Yet, there are people who intentionally care less and do not even know where they put the one mask they were given or purchased. People know if extra quality care of wearing masks 24/7 on a plane or in a hotel or other places –AC transmission issues would have a monumental brake– not happen resulting to individual efforts. They also know society still does not have enough information re: dogs and possibly cats not having any symptoms but, being able to infect humans, too. We still do not know enough to put down any preventative measure–mask, social distancing, hands, quarantine if unwell, etc.

I have observed/experienced the disrespect for several months. I live in a small modest, Carlsbad town home community. I moved to this community in 2019. Approx. 70-75% of my neighbors distort all they do as “exercise, walking” and no need to wear a mask. Everything they do according to them follows under the heading of exercise–no mask. Their mindset and behavior is reasonably infuriating.

Reasonably, I have continuously been concerned— these people will escalate the situation and one can easily be harmed if I again nicely bring up they should be wearing a mask. It also concerns me because if a person calmly calls police or security –our officers then get wrongly verbally smeared by these No Mask wearers.

I have for months kept my doors and windows closed during the day because people not wearing masks, not social distancing stop and talk in front of my door or stop their dog right at my windows– at the immediate small area of ivy covered “town home common area. They talk, chat next to each other “while their dogs are busy’. They normal socialize in front of my windows few feet away. (My front door/unit is right in front.) Yesterday, Saturday, I again heard all day, children and adults playing tag, in and out of the pool. I have been repeatedly so polite to them–in various respectful ways bringing up to wear masks even just for their own health. They don’t care and meanwhile, the health and well-being of our City and city matters. I am not surprised Jude has experienced disrespectful visitors with the same attitude as my own neighbors in this small central Carlsbad town home community.

We must stay tenacious and keep positive smart and constructively alert in figuring out best solutions.Carlsbad has since C19 inception reflected highest quality decision-making. I will be forever fully grateful.

Jude July 23, 2020 at 8:39 am

As I said once before I walk through the middle of Carlsbad Village to catch my bus to work so we’re all of foot and I’m sure they’re tourists have no mask I ask them kindly to please put their masks on they said we don’t have to and I remind him in this Village and this city of Carlsbad Housing wear your mask they don’t like it more people need to speak up speak out connection mark!!!!!???????

Larry Horat July 23, 2020 at 8:32 am

Great article Steve! Thank you.

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