From the beginning of March of 2020, businesses have experienced lockdown and quarantine due to the widespread of the COVID19 pandemic, resulting in mass restrictions and closures.
Business owners all over the nation have had to reluctantly close their businesses for the sake of health safety. Moreover, those that remained open have had to follow strict guidelines on how they operate during the pandemic.
There are 4 tier-level color coded systems used to track the lockdown that ranges from purple, red, orange and yellow. Purple, representing widespread cases, was a fixed veil over the State of California. In this tier, schools, businesses, and activities that promoted large gatherings were restricted to maintain social distancing. Moreover, social-distancing required people to stay 6 feet apart from each other. Most importantly, masks are mandatory to go inside a business or building that acquires many people.
During the lockdown employers and employees, especially within the food industry, felt the impact heavily. While they were allowed to open for business, they were not able to accept customers inside their restaurants.
Christine Aguado, a former employee at Gerry’s Grill, a very popular and often frequented Filipino restaurant in Union City, explained, “The restaurant I worked for had to close at the beginning of the pandemic [and] two months after we started to operate on a take-out only basis. This meant that only 20% of our staff got back on the payroll; just the kitchen staff and the host who were in charge of answering the phone…it was hard to keep up with the increasing demand.”
The biggest problem we had to deal with was the lack of staff willing to go back because they were scared of getting exposed to Covid.”
Counties all over the state shut down effectively and swiftly following the announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 12,2020. However, many businesses and residents alike posed immense displeasure at the inconvenience and loss they were experiencing.
Throughout the summer months of 2020, multiple protests against mask wearing popped up all over the United States, with people declaring their individual rights and liberties against wearing a mask. An article from Forbes Jul 2020 highlighted one protestor, Tara Hill, an avid anti-mask Florida activist, quoting, “This is a virus that is very well contained. Everyone is responsible for their own healthcare decisions…We want our choices respected as well.”
Despite ongoing backlash from anti-mask wearers, the majority of the US residents abided by the guidelines and followed restrictions. Workers, such as Lupe Hernandez, who continued to work through the pandemic shared her experience as a restaurant host and cafe employee, “When the pandemic first initially hit, the coffee shop that I work at had to close for a few months. When a few coworkers did test positive for the virus, we closed again for almost two months. It was hard not knowing when would be a safe time to return to work.”
Small businesses were hit the hardest by the pandemic and their survival counted on daily foot traffic, but because of the lockdown they barely made ends meet. Most owners made the drastic decision to file bankruptcy and close permanently. These types of measures are what business owners and employees hope to prevent and while they are obedient to the guidelines, they hold bitterness towards lack of government aid and programs to help them stay afloat.
The wait for vaccines seemed to rile up the most anxiety upon workers who desire to get back to work.
“I think the government has tried, but it’s never enough, especially when it comes to small business.” Hernandez expressed, “There wasn’t much that could have been done except wait for the tests and vaccines to emerge. The gov’t needs to continue to provide access to the tests and vaccines, and also healthcare to low-income families in order to make sure people can stay healthy and go to work.”
With an increase in vaccine distribution and healthcare organizations and citizens rushing to get their vaccinations, hope for a safer environment is on the rise. As of May 2020, California released news of counties switching to Red and Orange zones meaning, business and outdoor activities may now be observed in limited capacities, mandatory mask wearing and being fully vaccinated.
Hernandez exclaims, “Now that there’s a vaccine I definitely feel safer in my work environment. My current job is at the coffee shop and all my coworkers including myself have gotten the vaccine. We definitely feel like we can move forward working together with a little less stress.
In light of recent events, slowly but surely, California and the rest of the nation is coming back to their “normal” daily lives with the ease of restrictions and guidelines. Businesses who have had to close down and employees who were laidoff are now have a chance in renewing their hopes in restoring what they lost due to the pandemic. All we may do now as a society is to keep up our patience and teamwork in opening up our counties once again.
Hopefully, we will see California in the “yellow tier” soon.”