Diners have a late lunch outside at Olive Garden at the Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro on Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 26, a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the state’s stay-at-home order, allowing outdoor dining, among other types of businesses, to resume operations. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO
The most obvious signs of change after Gov. Newsom lifted the state’s stay-at-home order Monday, Jan. 25, was the number of people able to again dine outdoors, as eateries all over the county dusted off their chairs and tables and welcomed back hungry patrons.
For some businesses it has been a tough several weeks since the order was put in place, yet it has been tough all around during this pandemic, even for those merchants who could stay open on a limited basis.
Florists like Cynthia Derma of Cynthia’s Flower Connection have been allowed to continue operating with limited hours and capacity because she is considered agriculture, but it hasn’t been easy.
“Sales are down,” Derma said. “We don’t have the product going out. Hopefully, our business will start to recover soon.”
The lifting of the order by the governor because of improving COVID conditions can start to restore a sense of quasi-normality for small business owners, Imperial Valley Business Recovery Task Force coordinator Katie Luna said during an interview Tuesday, Jan. 26.
Now that the region is back on a tiered system, Luna said, there are goals the Valley can collectively work toward so that the area can move the economy to reopening completely.
“Businesses are ready and have been ready to reopen,” said Luna, who is also executive director of the Brawley Chamber of Commerce. “Many of our local mom and pop, small- to medium-size businesses, have exhausted all possible assistance and can’t hold on much longer.
“These businesses are lifelines for people to sustain life. It puts food on the table and roofs over heads,” she continued. “These businesses create jobs so that others can have income to eat and live. Businesses are foundational to the sustainment of life.”
She still advises people to be careful, however.
“We need all businesses to protect their employees and their consumers to the best of their ability,” Luna said. “If we want to beat COVID and get this under control, we need to all do our part. It’s up to us.
“Now that we have businesses reopening, we don’t want them to close again,” she added.
Calexico City Council member Camilo Garcia is also pleased to see the reopening of businesses that come with the lifting of the state’s stay-at-home order, especially in the Calexico area.
“It will be a positive. We really need to help our businesses, and I know they have been closed, especially the restaurants.”
The ability to have some outside dining will be a great boost for the area’s economy and the resident’s mindsets, he said.
“Hopefully, we can go back to some type of normalcy,” Garcia added. “We need that. We need that a lot.”
It will not only help restaurants, but also barber shops, and maybe gyms in Calexico.
“All of those services are really badly needed,” Garcia said. “Just being able to get a haircut, go to the salon. … It does a lot, not only to the economic side but also to the psyche of people having the opportunity to go out and do that.”
All of this, though, must be done with the current protocols in place, he added. People still need to wear face coverings and observe social distance. None of that has changed.
“It’s going to depend on us being responsible, following guidelines, so we can be taking care of ourselves,” Garcia said. “It’s going to be up to all of us. It’s not by any means a ‘get back to normal’ thing.
“We’re going to keep moving in the right direction as long as we keep following the protocols in place,” Garcia said.