MORONGO BASIN — Businesses are slowly opening their doors as the county and state relax their shutdown regulations.
Financial experts are saying that COVID-19 has put many businesses, especially small businesses, on life support.
The Desert Nest Co. in Yucca Valley, open since August 2019, officially reopened for business on Friday, but had successful online sales during the shutdown, said owner Jennifer Batin, who opted not to wear a mask.
“We’re doing inside sales too,” said Batin, saying her customers are keeping a safe social distance. “The community has totally supported us. We wanted to open and bring happiness.”
San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert confirmed Monday, May 11, that businesses should be offering curbside services only. “The only businesses that are supposed to allow people inside are the essential businesses that never had to close,” he said.
Asked if the county intended to communicate the new rules directly to businesses, Wert said, “The county would certainly urge everyone to comply with the state health orders, and if they aren’t clear about what the state allows and doesn’t allow, seek guidance from the state at https://covid19.ca.gov.”
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a recovery plan during a special meeting last week after the state released guidelines for reopening some retail businesses, factories and warehouses. The county also relaxed its mask rules last week, saying they are strongly recommended but not required.
Many shoppers and business owners this weekend in Yucca Valley opted not to wear masks, but some retail businesses are still requiring masks when shopping.
Batin and her business partner, Monica Slaby, said they were both happy to finally be able to open for business over the weekend.
The business is doing well enough to move in two months into the much larger fabric store space vacated earlier this year, Batin said.
“We’ve been overwhelmingly supported,” said Batin, who has lived in the town for more than a decade with her husband and family.
Debbie Smith, holding her dog Homer, said she was thrilled to find The Desert Nest open for business. She and Jifke Driessen, both of Desert Hot Springs, were in the area to check on their miniature horses.
“We’re all dying without shopping,” Smith said, smiling. “It’s way over time to reopen.”
“This is our first day in a real shop,” she said. “This is our first day of freedom.”
Tim Snyder, owner of Joshua Tree Finds, said he opened his vintage store the first weekend of May, deciding not to wait for the official OK from the government. Snyder, born in Morongo Valley, said his store’s pace of business is not going to put people in harm’s way.
“Today’s been good,” Snyder said on Saturday. “The traffic has been good …. I don’t have the crowds so it’s not an issue.”
Snyder said he did close for about six weeks, but when he did not receive grants he applied for from the town of Yucca Valley and other agencies, it was time to get back to business.
“I closed and stayed closed for a while,” Snyder said. “Some thrift stores in town never closed.”
As the curve of novel coronavirus cases in California has flattened, the main conversation now focuses on containing the deadly virus and begin finding a new normal.
“Californians, working together, have flattened the curve. Because of that work, our health data tells us that California can enter the next stage of this pandemic and gradually begin to restart portions of our economy,” Newsom said.
“It’s critical that businesses and employers understand how they can reduce the risk of transmission and better protect their workers and customers. COVID-19 will be present in our communities until there is a vaccine or therapeutic treatment, and it will be up to all of us to change our behavior and eliminate opportunities for the disease to spread.”
Businesses that are not allowed to reopen at this time, such as dine-in restaurants, office buildings and shopping malls, may open later this month. Newsom said he would announce guidelines for those sectors on May 12.
The county supervisors also approved on Thursday a total of $30 million to support small businesses with up to 100 employees through the COVID Compliant Business Partnership Program. To receive money, businesses must apply and commit to complying with state and county health requirements. The county is recommending $2,500 per business during the first round of funding.