Shopping now allowed in Contra Costa County, looting still a concern

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Retailers in downtown Walnut Creek are still covered in plywood despite the county easing restrictions on the health order.

Starting Wednesday, shopping inside stores is allowed in Contra Costa County. But while many store owners said they couldn't afford to be closed, they now feel they can't afford to be open. They are still worried about vandals destroying their buildings and stealing their merchandise after the looting that happened on Sunday. They are also worried about safety.

RELATED: Retailers clean up after Sunday demonstration in Walnut Creek as police brace for more looting

Jin Fillinger says she has been waiting for this day since she was forced to close her boutique, Jinny's, in March. But Wednesday, she said the timing did not feel right.

"I am not going to reopen. I have decided to stay closed for the rest of the week because the city has enacted a curfew for the rest of the week through Monday. And just for the safety of all, including myself, I am going to take the rest of the week to clean, reflect and give space to the purpose of the protesting. I absolutely stand with First Amendment rights and the reason why the conversation needs to happen now. I absolutely don't want to muddle or take light away from the message that is so important right now. For me, to say that I am the victim or that I am devastated by this is not the truth," Fillinger said outside her store Wednesday morning. It is so boarded up, you cannot see the front door.

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It is a different situation at Sweet Affair Bakery. It is located outside of Walnut Creek's downtown so the owners didn't feel the need to board up. Yet they still have concerns about the looting. Their baker comes in at 2 a.m.

"There is a concern for him coming in alone. So we have made adjustments. He is coming in later. He's not alone. We are opening later so we can adjust to his schedule," said manager Sarah Torres.

They have been open for take-out, which is good, but not enough.

"Unfortunately, we had to cut our payroll back drastically. We had 34 employees and we are down to eight," she said.

RELATED: Looters hit multiple stores in East Bay as unrest intensifies in Bay Area
She and her sister have picked up the extra work, only having three days off since the pandemic hit. But she says they are determined to keep the family owned business afloat.

"We'll be OK because Walnut Creek is amazing. The support of the people here has been super touching. Honestly we have the best customers. We have had people come in from all over and show their support," Torres said, choking up.

Fillinger says don't count her out either.

"I will make it. I will be OK. I have no doubt about it. Most of us who are small business owners we have done this from....we're scrappy! We do this because we love it," she said.

She hopes to reopen on Monday.

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