Many Menifee businesses are continuing to comply with the latest orders coming out of the governor’s office and county health authorities due to a surge in county coronavirus cases and hospitalizations but not without serious questions about the value of more closures.
The latest orders to reduce the rising COVID-19 cases were announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom in mid-July. Restaurants are required to close their indoor business and serve customers outdoors or with takeout menus.
In the two weeks before that announcement, restaurants, barber shops and hair salons reopened their businesses. Social distancing guidelines were maintained, strict sanitary actions performed and face masks were worn by employees, and their tables and stations kept continually sanitized.
Business owners and employers were relieved to reopen, and most said they were careful to keep the mandated requirements. Customers too said they were happy to once again have some sense of normalcy return to their dining out, and routine haircuts and stylings allowed.
After the current orders were instituted, confusion and anger were expressed by both businesses and the public in Menifee. Valley News conducted a survey and interviews which showed that most dine-in restaurants were moving their tables outdoors to the sidewalks or parking lots with the city’s permission provided the outdoor dining areas didn’t hinder pedestrian or motor traffic. All but a few of those surveyed reported a serious downturn in sales. Most barber shops and hair salons have once again closed their doors or are taking appointments only and keeping to the current health guidelines.
One of the exceptions was the Starbucks coffee shop at Newport and Menifee roads which reportedly has not lost any business since the coronavirus pandemic was declared in March.
“Our business hasn’t changed at all. It is exactly the same,” Valerie Marquez said, looking at a long line of cars at the drive-up, but all the outside tables were cordoned off. “Everybody always has to get their cup of coffee.”
Customers were allowed inside the café only to pick up their takeout orders.
Panera Bread’s franchise in the Menifee Countryside Marketplace at Haun and Newport roads had cars lined up for the takeout window all the way onto the Marketplace’s main drive indicating no loss of business.
BJ’s Brewhouse in the Marketplace, while having no indoor dining service, filled their outside sheltered patio area tables with a steady flow of customers coming and going. Each table was cleaned, and servers wore masks and plastic gloves.
Customers filling the tables outside of Carnitas Express Mexican Restaurant at Bradley and Newport roads enjoyed their meals, but everyone interviewed said they were not happy with the governor’s latest orders.
Alisha Piatt, with her family and friends, was eating outdoors at Carnitas Express. Piatt said the mandates are “ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. It is awful. The kids ought to be in school.”
She called the mandate for outdoor dining “weird.”
“It’s weird. It’s like in a foam with everybody’s mask on,” she said.
She urged me to take mine off.
“Take it off. It doesn’t matter,” Piatt said.
Rachel Clark, one of her friends from Quail Valley, said, “It’s different for sure. Not what we are used to and out of the norm. I think it’s unnecessary.”
Josh Piatt said, “It’s complete nonsense. Your body naturally fills up with immunities like viruses, and whatever diseases are around. You do not need to wear a mask, you know.”
Tony Ault can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.