'We worked so hard': Devastated small business owners in the East Bay react to new shutdown

ByLeslie Brinkley via KGO logo
Saturday, December 5, 2020
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Many East Bay businesses are stunned to hear the new coronavirus shutdown is happening so quickly.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Many businesses in the East Bay had hoped they'd have a week or two before shutting down under California's new coronavirus guidelines. They were stunned to hear they only have until Dec. 6 because county health departments decided to move forward with a shelter-in-place order pre-emptively.

RELATED: 5 Bay Area counties enacting stay-at-home order starting Sunday, not waiting for state's timeline

The decorations may be festive, but the mood is anything but that at an Oakland nail salon.

Owner Michelle Saunders James said tearfully, "I guess the only option is to cease business. I don't know what else to do. I am upset. It's just very hard because we worked so hard to keep everyone safe."

They had just reopened five weeks ago.

Saunders James emphasized, "We wear shields. We take temperatures. We do everything we are told to do so everyone feels safe, including our staff and team. So I don't understand why it's not enough and I'm terribly sad and afraid."

VIDEO: 'Seems really stupid': Bay Area businesses react to another shelter-in-place

Other small businesses, like a waxing studio on College Avenue, are reeling from the news of having to shut down again.

"To know that retail and things like that are going to be open! We actually have follow these guidelines forever and it's really disappointing. It makes us feel like it's an attack against our industry," Jeni Zimmer, Stript Wax Bar Manager, said.

For restaurants, they had to get permits to expand into parking lots and on the streets. They invested in canopies and plexiglass in outdoor heaters. Now what?

RELATED: Here's what will close under the Bay Area stay-at-home order

"We spent a lot of money just to get to this point." said Kevin Weinberg, co -owner of the Walnut Creek Yacht club. Outdoor dining, he says, has been a lifeline.

"Take that away and it'll be a closure blow for a lot of places," he said. "We can't just hibernate until this is over."

Zimmer said "It's really scary. I feel for my employees. I feel for all of my friends and family that are in these industries that keep getting shut down. Watching them lose businesses left and right is distressing."

2020 isn't over yet.

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