Some South Bay businesses preparing to finally reopen amid pandemic, told to 'consider boarding up'

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara County has been hit hard by COVID-19. This week, promising news as some businesses get the green light to reopen with restrictions.

However, many business owners also face potential rioters- people taking advantage, as many others call for real change.

On Monday, it was mixed emotions for some business owners in San Jose, in the course of one afternoon.

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County Public Health Officials announced the easing of shelter-in-place rules allowing in-store retail, outdoor dining, and other opportunities on Friday.

"I just gave this place a fresh coat of paint. I'm fixing up the back patio right now. I've been gardening for the last week and a half with another wonderful neighbor of ours, Carole Austin, she's back there now making sure we're ready for this moment," Todd Perreira with Tee Nee Thai told ABC7 News. "So yeah, we're pretty excited."

As Perreira was sharing changes, another challenge hit businesses along The Alameda.

He and many others received an urgent alert by The Alameda Business District, warning business owners to "consider boarding up their storefronts."

In bright red, the message told owners, "Protestors are expected to march through The Alameda Business District area this afternoon/evening."

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"We're just sort of quickly trying to get up as much coverage as we can," Rob Alberino with Labarre Studios said. "Obviously understanding the situation, just doing what we can to protect what we built."

There's fear over potential rioting and looting. The Alameda sits just outside downtown, where destruction remains after Friday's protest turned violent.

"We received an email that just said to be cautious because some of the protesting might move down The Alameda," Alberino said. "We're a small business. We live in this community. We love this community."

These businesses, and many others across the region, have struggled since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Now, some are racing to save their storefronts from rioters.

"We've been closed for like two months, and so, there's no sales," Nguon Tan with OR Diamond explained. "We're trying to get by and then, with this additional happening, it's really hard. It's really hard on us."

While many said they support the hundreds of protesters, at the same time they have to protect their small business.

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"We're all small business owners. Most of us are immigrants. My wife comes from Thailand," Perreira told ABC7 News. "Our entire family depends on this business."

"We 100-percent support and feel the rage, and share the rage, and feel like this has to stop," he added. "Hopefully, the rage of the protesters is channeled in the right way, towards justice, and not towards violence."

Elsewhere along The Alameda, the glass storefront at Rosie's New York Pizza will remain.

Business partner Joe Mini offered this plea, "Please be peaceful if you want to protest. That's my only answer. Don't hurt the mom and pop shops."

Alberino told ABC7 News, "It started with our 49ers losing the Super Bowl, and now there's murder hornets and boarding going up on our building. So, at some point, we would like to catch a break."

Business owners acknowledged the peaceful protesters who have made it their mission to protest the death of George Floyd and condemn police brutality are not behind the violent rioting or looting.

While the business district attributed its urgent message to San Jose Councilmember Dev Davis, her office said that was not the case. A spokeswoman emphasized there was no credible threat. The office said it reached out to The Alameda Business District to take a proactive approach, and let the district know about the potential for rioting considering its proximity to Downtown San Jose.

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