San Diego Businesses Attempt to Reopen While Still Adhering to Social Distancing Guidelines

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artwork by Ghada Atalla

Ghada Atalla, Staff Writer

  Many local and big businesses in San Diego have begun to reopen as a part of Phase 2 of Governor Gavin Newsom’s reopening plan, which was approved for San Diego County last week. 

   According to Eater San Diego, “San Diego County has lifted the ban on dine-in service, and restaurants have begun to fully reopen or set restarting dates. Though many local eateries will still continue to offer takeout or delivery, restaurants throughout San Diego that have met the requirements of the county’s new public health measures are already welcoming patrons back into reconfigured dining rooms.”  Amongst those planning to reopen (in select locations) are Common Stock, Tasty Noodle House, Subterranean Coffee Boutique, The Smoking Gun, Farmer’s Table, Breakfast Republic, and more (sandiego.eater.com).

   “Following state approval for in-restaurant dining and in-store retail Wednesday night, Westfield shopping centers in San Diego, which include Westfield UTC, Mission Valley, North County, and Plaza Bonita, announced they will re-open on Friday, May 29,” according to CBS News (cbs8.com). 

   New mall safety practices will include “increasing the frequency of cleaning measures following CDC and local health department guidelines, with a focus on high-touch areas such as restrooms, play areas, dining areas, and water fountains; monitoring and controlling the number of guests entering the centers and crowds in dwell areas and queuing lines; and implementing and enforcing relevant policies related to social distancing, face masks and other preventative measures” (cbs8.com). 

  An article by NBC San Diego stated, “County supervisors approved a pilot program that would allow some phase 3 businesses to open. The pilot program would allow outdoor religious services and pools at apartments and housing complexes to open up at 25 percent capacity. It would also allow hair salons and gyms to open up at a 25 percent capacity too.” As of May 25, the pilot program was still waiting on Governor Gavin Newsome’s approval (nbcsandiego.com). 

   However, there are some concerns regarding gyms reopening. According to a Vox journalist, “Gyms can be difficult places to maintain social distancing and the volume of touched surfaces and objects makes them uniquely challenging for infection prevention efforts” (vox.com).

   Dr. Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist and biodefense researcher, said, “Moreover, in those environments where social distancing is difficult, the CDC has recommended masks, which are hard to wear when exercising” (vox.com).

   While places are beginning to reopen, there is still no guarantee that safety precautions will be met. According to Mercury News, The Viejas Casino and Resort was the first of three popular casinos in the San Diego area to open this week.” This casino opened on Monday, May 18 to large crowds; the customers and employees had temperature checks at the door and had to wear masks. Every other slot machine could be used, but people were sitting less 6 feet apart from others. Card dealers worked with 3 customers at a table with less than 6 ft apart with no barriers (mercurynews.com).

   NBC news reported that California health guidelines also allowed for some places to reopen before Phase 2 went into effect. The city of San Diego reopened two city reservoirs, Miramar and Murray, for recreation on May 15, and they reopened the Lower Otay Reservoir on May 16. They are open to recreational activities including walking, jogging, cycling, fishing, and boating. The reservoirs will be open during normal hours; regular fishing and boating fees still apply (nbcsandiego.com).  

   According to NBC news, “On May 8, recreational facilities like tennis courts and handball courts were deemed safe to reopen under the same guidelines as golf courses. Social distancing must be practiced, anyone playing a game of tennis together must be living in the same household. A tennis facility’s guidance to reopen must be approved by the county first” (nbcsandiego.com). 

    “The city of Coronado reopened its skatepark on May 15, on a limited basis. Reservations are required to use the facility and must be made 24 hours in advance. No more than two half-hour slots may be reserved per day and two individuals per household will be allowed per half-hour. The city of San Diego skateparks still remains closed,” according to NBC (nbcsandiego.com).