Ahead of California’s second phase to reopen, Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke Tuesday on the safety modifications small businesses will have to establish as they welcome customers once again.
“We’re not going back to normal. It’s back to a new normal with adaptations and modifications until we get to immunity, until we get a vaccine. We’ll get there,” he said, during a visit to Display California in Sacramento, a nine-employee business trying to survive with online sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Under Phase 2, “lower-risk” businesses, such as clothing stores, bookstores, sporting goods and those selling electronics, toys and flowers, will be able to reopen as soon as Friday after a nearly two-month closure under the statewide stay-at-home order.
Establishments will have to make some adjustments as they reopen, however. For example, stores need to offer employees a more spacious working environment and practice rigid sanitation guidelines. For customers, businesses may arrange online orders and curbside pickup rather than allow people inside.
Among those setting up these changes is Soapish, a small business selling handcrafted bath and body items on Main Street in Newhall.
“I think opening back up is a good thing as long as people are careful. We will still have to abide by just doing curbside pickup right now since you can’t have people come into your shop,” said owner Tania Vivian.
Soapish has been able to stay afloat financially thanks to its online shop but a true recovery will come once all the stores on Main Street reopen because the establishments depend on each other for sales, said Vivian.
“I don’t really think that things are going back to normal until people can actually come inside of the stores and shop around. We depend on the other businesses being open to supplement our street traffic since there’s a lot of hair salons and restaurants on Main Street,” she said.
On Tuesday, Newsom also announced that only 60% of Paycheck Protection Program loans have been sent out, meaning more businesses that had applied should soon see their checks. California businesses have received more than $67 billion in loan funding over the course of two PPP rounds.