Coronavirus concerns are quickly sweeping the nation and have hit home in Turlock, where local businesses are scrambling to make adjustments in light of the global pandemic threatening the public’s health.
On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked for the closure of bars, wineries, night clubs and brew pubs, and called for restaurants to stop serving meals for dine-in customers in an effort to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition, President Donald Trump over the weekend also called for all Americans to stop gathering in groups of more than 10 people, and on Monday, six Bay Area counties entered into a “shelter-in-place” lockdown to combat the contagion.
At the start of this week there were four confirmed cases of the respiratory disease in Stanislaus County, though none have been reported yet in Turlock. Still, that hasn’t stopped most local eateries and other small businesses from following the Governor’s advice and making changes to help the community remain healthy.
Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have become flooded with posts since Newsom’s advisory was announced as restaurants, breweries and even boutiques make changes to their operations. Many restaurants in town, like Vito’s Ristorante & Pizzeria, La Mo and countless others, are offering curbside pickup only in an effort to protect their customers from the coronavirus.
Since Sunday, Vito’s owner Shanin Soomalan said business has slowed 50 to 60 percent.
“The decision to go takeout and curbside pickup only wasn’t as difficult as many may think,” Soomalan said. “Our priority is to keep everyone safe and comfortable.”
Customers who want to support Vito’s and other local restaurants can call ahead and place an order, then pay over the phone and pick up their meal at the location without even leaving their car. Most restaurants are also allowing customers to come inside and pick up their meals, but curbside pickup is the easiest way to avoid spreading any potential illness.
Soomalan said one of her employees will leave this week to be with her family in the Bay Area, but she anticipates that all of her employees will be able to keep their jobs during this difficult time.
“My hopes are that once we overcome this, we can get back to business,” Soomalan said. “I can’t foresee the future to see where we will stand at that time, but we are hopeful we can try to pick up the pieces and build up again.”
Dust Bowl Brewing Company also followed suit and will only be offering to-go food and beer from its Fulkerth Road and Monterey locations. In the meantime, their downtown taproom will be completely closed.
Under the new social distancing guidelines, local gyms have also shut down for the time being. From big name locations like In Shape Health Clubs to smaller, locally-owned businesses like Body Best Fit and Lifted Fitness, gym owners are stepping up to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Warrior Yoga owner Lorie Wilson said the decision to close her business was tough.
“For me personally, it was really challenging because I know how important it is for people to have access to the yoga practice, meditate and gather as a community during times of crisis and challenges,” Wilson said. “I was conflicted whether or not to leave the doors open or to let people decide for themselves and make it optional, but with the urgency of social distancing and the need to minimize the exposure, it just seemed ethically and morally right to be in alignment with what the CDC was requesting and what seemed to be the right thing to do.”
In lieu of in-person classes, Warrior Yoga is providing sessions via Facebook Live, where yogis can follow along from their living rooms — a practice many gyms and studios both locally and nationwide have adopted in light of the crisis.
Wilson said her landlord reached out to her to let her know they would be understanding during this time, she added, and the downtown businesses have lent each other their support in recent days. Luckily, teaching yoga is a side job for many of Wilson’s yoga instructors and they will still have income in the weeks to come.
“I’m going to take a hit, but I’m trying not to go down the rabbit hole of fear and stay in the mindset of faith and abundance,” Wilson said.
Even dental locations throughout Turlock have closed save for emergencies, and boutiques like Glitz Fine Clothing are offering online shopping and delivery. The Turlock Poker Room will cease operations come Friday, and Turlock Regal Cinemas — along with all Regal-owned theaters in the country — closed on Tuesday. Fast food chains like McDonald’s are also offering drive-thru only.
Two of Turlock’s busiest bars, The Udder Place and The Grand Cru, opened their doors for the last time on St. Patrick’s Day after announcing they would close during the pandemic come Wednesday.
In a statement Monday, Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak said that Newsom was clear not to issue an edict.
“We are balancing the social distancing efforts and the ability to continue serving the community. We encourage the people of Turlock to use common sense, remain calm and use the information from the Center for Disease Control and continue to support our local businesses and the economic vitality of Turlock,” Bublak said.
Given that there have been no official orders from the state or federal government to completely shutdown, some local businesses are still operating — but with extra precaution.
Ten Pin Fun Center will operate with altered hours, opening at 5 p.m. instead of 11 a.m. during the week, and has shut down laser tag Monday through Thursday. The business is regularly cleaning bowling balls and sanitizing the building, general manager Mike Eggert said in a Facebook post.
“Ten Pin Fun Center is committed to each and every guest along with our staff to provide a protected and fun environment. We’re inspired by our core values to provide a memorable, unique and safe experience for all guests every day,” Eggert said. “We truly value every guest and hope these specific procedures will provide a peace of mind to continue visiting Ten Pin Fun Center.”
For those who may have lost their job or have had their hours cut during the coronavirus pandemic, an Unemployment Insurance claim can be filed at www.edd.ca.gov by clicking on the “COVID-19 Resources” page. An executive order by Newsom waives the one-week waiting period, so community members can collect UI benefits the first week they are out of work.
The state’s COVID-19 Resources page also provides relief for employers, such as information on the UI Work Sharing Program, which allows employers to seek alternatives to layoffs. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering disaster assistance to California small businesses affected by coronavirus. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email email@example.com for more information on SBA disaster assistance.