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Monterey County is stuck in COVID purgatory



Monterey County has made little progress to get out of the spread with the governor’s new reopening system, and businesses feel like they’re stuck in purgatory. A recent survey by the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce showed that 13% of small business owners are worried about closing down if things don’t change. “The restaurant industry is being pushed to a precipice,” said restaurant owner Kevin Phillips. Phillips owns three restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula and said the situation will only get worse as winter approaches. Until Monterey County reaches the substantial level, only outdoor dining will be allowed. Phillips said there is no way to make the outdoors comfortable for diners in the event of a storm. “The tent protocols require three sides of the tent to be open at all times to encourage airflow, and when it̵

7;s raining and windy it won’t work,” Phillips said. Moe Ammar with the Chamber of Commerce predicts that as many as 40% of local restaurants could close this winter if indoor dining is not allowed. “They are looking for help and support that they have to go home to make it, or many of them will end up closing business,” Ammar said. Respondents to the recent survey also commented that they find the COVID-19 level system an unfair way to determine what can be opened. Some have said they would like to see restrictions based on postcode data and not county numbers. The Monterey Peninsula has seen low numbers of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and 83 percent of cases have occurred on the Monterey Peninsula. Leaving the entrepreneurs of the Peninsula with the feeling that they will not soon come out of purgatory if the best practices continue. “We’re kind of settled into this is the way it will be for the foreseeable future, maybe until the end of the year,” said Phillips. The Chamber of Commerce has lobbied Sacramento in an effort to get the state to allow indoor dining when the weather changes by sending video messages sharing their plight. Local towns were left to recover. The city of Monterey has started a small business relief fund and Pacific Grove is offering grants to help pay for deferred rents. Yet companies have begun to close their doors.

Monterey County has made little progress to get out of the spread with the governor’s new reopening system, and businesses feel like they’re stuck in purgatory.

A recent survey by the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce showed that 13% of small business owners are worried about closing down if things don’t change.

“The restaurant industry is being pushed to a precipice,” said restaurant owner Kevin Phillips.

Phillips owns three restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula and said the situation will only get worse as winter approaches. Until Monterey County reaches substantial level, only outdoor dining will be allowed. Phillips said there is no way to make the outdoors comfortable for diners in the event of a storm.

“The tent protocols require three sides of the tent to be open at all times to encourage airflow, and when it’s raining and windy it won’t work,” Phillips said.

Moe Ammar with the Chamber of Commerce predicts that as many as 40% of local restaurants could close this winter if indoor dining is not allowed.

“They are looking for help and support, they have to go home to make it, or many of them will end up closing business,” said Ammar.

Respondents to the recent poll also commented on finding the COVID-19 level system an unfair way to determine what can be opened. Some have said they would like to see restrictions based on postcode data and not county numbers.

The Monterey Peninsula has experienced low numbers of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and 83 percent of cases have occurred on the Monterey Peninsula. Leaving the entrepreneurs of the peninsula with the feeling that they will not soon come out of purgatory if best practices continue.

“We are pretty convinced that this will be the way it will be for the foreseeable future, possibly until the end of the year,” said Phillips.

The Chamber of Commerce has lobbied Sacramento in an effort to get the state to allow indoor dining when the weather changes by sending video messages sharing their plight.

Local towns were left to recover. The city of Monterey has started a small business relief fund and Pacific Grove is offering grants to help pay for deferred rents. Yet companies have begun to close their doors.


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