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SLO County at risk of moving back to purple tier could put restaurants, gyms back outdoors

Posted at 10:46 PM, Nov 12, 2020

An uptick in COVID-19 cases is likely to push San Luis Obispo County back into the state's highest tier, according to county public health officials.

Businesses including restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, and museums would once again return to outdoor operation, but personal care services would remain indoors.

For Kennedy Fitness Manager Brett Weaver, the news comes as a devastation and he worries his employees will face more layoffs.

“The beating that this equipment is going to take being outside in the elements, drives our repairs in maintenance through the roof. How do we recover that? What do we do?” Weaver said.

These questions are what restaurant owners may also soon be asking, uncertain of their future business success outdoors.

“I wish it could be back to normal," Thai Classic Manager Frank Benjamin said.

A spike in COVID-19 case county in the past month has made health officials feel a move back into the purple tier is very likely.

“By now I’m sure it is not news to anyone that we are collectively going in the wrong direction with COVID-19. We are seeing a dramatic rise in cases," County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said.

On Wednesday, the County sent an adjudication form to the state, hoping it will delay the return to the most restrictive tier.

Many restaurants worry about how the colder weather will impact their business under full outdoor operation.

“We already have some outdoor seating but we’re going to have to make some arrangements, we’re going to probably have to get some more heating towers to heat the area up here," Federicos Fresh Mex Cuisine Owner Maria Hernandez said.

While COVID-19 cases are on the rise, Dr. Borenstein says the county is seeing less severe cases, minimal hospitalizations and more of the people testing positive showing no symptoms.