Modesto CA restaurants, merchants relieved by the reopening of COVID


Jenny Lipman attends a client at Party Guys in Modesto, Calif. On Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Jenny Lipman attends a client at Party Guys in Modesto, Calif. On Thursday, June 10, 2021.

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When California reopens on Tuesday after 15 months of imposing numerous health and safety regulations to slow the spread of COVID-19, many Central Valley restaurant and retail owners say it will be a relief.

In Stanislaus County, business owners and their employees have largely borne the brunt of enforcing state and federal restrictions, including requiring masks, maintaining social distancing, monitoring capacity limits, and maintaining improved cleaning programs. On Tuesday, most of them will disappear as the state relaxes and takes a giant step towards a post-pandemic future.

This week, customers can expect noticeable changes and plenty of activity as usual in area stores and restaurants. The county entered the Orange level of restrictions last week, increasing restaurant capacity limits to 50% and removing them entirely for retailers. After Tuesday, there will be no more capacity limits for indoor businesses.

One of the biggest changes when the state reopens will be mask warrants. Requiring everyone to wear masks in businesses during the pandemic has been a continual flashpoint between customers and employees. Local store owners said the CDC’s surprise announcement in mid-May that masks were no longer needed indoors or outdoors for those vaccinated rekindled the long-simmering tensions around masks.

Party guys / Big events Owner Ray Pogue said that since the CDC’s recommendations a month ago, customers have been shouting at his employees to have to wear masks indoors again – just like at the start of the pandemic. Cal / OSHA and Stanislaus County have maintained their mandate to mask customers and employees ever since, but that changes next week.

Mask requirements cause tensions in Stanislas companies

“(Tuesday) will be a relief, just total relief. Without a doubt, we got stuck in the middle. Customers think they don’t need to wear masks anymore and we’re just trying to follow the rules, ”he said. “If anything, the vitriol was worse than at the start. People have been demanding a lot more and have the right to be treated in a certain way. It’s like they’ve lost their manners after buying Amazon for a year.

Pogue said he would be relieved when he no longer has to deal with customers refusing to wear masks or arguing with his employees over the tenure. He plans to remove his signs about wearing masks on Tuesday.

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Sales associate Benito Marines cleans the shopping carts at Party Guys in Modesto, Calif. On Thursday, June 10, 2021. Andy Alfaro [email protected]

But, employees working inside will have to continue to wear their masks for much of that month as Cal / OSHA decided this week not to revise their rules immediately to coincide with the state’s reopening. Pogue said he had a few questions from his staff of 15 as to why they should continue to wear face coverings. He said that as a business owner he had strictly followed local, state and federal guidelines throughout the pandemic and would not stop now.

The state and CDC also continue to require that fully immunized people wear masks in certain situations, including on public transportation, airports and airplanes, healthcare facilities, and long-term care and correctional facilities. .

While social distancing will no longer be required in his party supplies business when the state reopens, Pogue said he plans to keep the markers because they have become useful delineators for customers. Another COVID-19 era policy that he wants to keep in place is improved cleaning protocols.

Like Pogue, the owners of Modesto Sukiyaki plan to continue their hygiene and cleaning program after the state reopens. Co-owner Cheng Her said diners can expect to continue to see regular cleanings of common areas and hand sanitizer available in the restaurant.

“We will continue to disinfect everything. Honestly, it should have been like this from the start and shouldn’t take a pandemic for (businesses) to do, ”he said.

Its employees will also continue to wear their masks. But he has yet to have meetings with his staff to discuss the pending changes, instead taking a wait-and-see approach to see what officials announce on Tuesday. He said frequent changes in guidelines and restrictions made him reluctant to prepare too far in advance.

“We’ll see when he hits the 15th. That could change, so basically we’re in a waiting game right now,” he said.

Some alfresco meals, like parklets, here to stay in Modesto

After the reopening, Her said he expected the seats outside the restaurant to disappear. Like many restaurateurs, he has set up a temporary terrace on the sidewalk in front of the store. But he said his owner didn’t want to continue allowing outdoor dining, so he expects meals to be indoors again soon.

But not everyone will rush inside. Another COVID-19 change to restaurants that you can expect to see staying are parklets throughout downtown Modesto.

Josh Bridegroom, president and CEO of the Downtown Modesto Partnership, led a program to help plan, build and pay for extended outdoor food courts. The town has nine parklets completed or underway in restaurants in downtown Modesto. Each occupies one to three parking spaces, and is elevated and isolated from the street.

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Diners sit in a parklet built into a parking space in front of the Food Fix restaurant on 11th Street in downtown Modesto, California on September 10, 2020. Marijke Rowland [email protected]

The parklets have received temporary approval from the city, which Bridegroom says is set to become permanent soon. He said the city was finalizing a plan to keep the pandemic from additional outdoor seating. Companies are currently required to carry additional insurance, to ensure that parklets are ADA compliant and do not block access to gutters.

“Everyone we’ve built a parklet with wants to keep it there. Before we even started building them, we said that we hope we can keep that, ”said Bridegroom. “It will make a huge difference in their results and contribute to the dynamism of the city center. There is a real advantage for parklets.

The town of Modesto did not respond to a request for information on if and when the parklets would become permanent in time for publication. Bridegroom said at least four other downtown restaurants are interested in building parklets once the plan becomes permanent.

DoMo Partnership is providing companies with up to $ 3,000 to help cover construction and labor costs under a $ 30,000 program.

Shoppers heading to Vintage Faire Mall and other area malls are likely to see subtle changes. The county’s move from red to orange levels last week has already lifted most capacity restrictions on malls and shopping malls. But they are still required to maintain common areas and capacity restrictions in food courts.

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California malls, including Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto, pictured here on Monday, July 13, 2020, have been asked to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kristina karisch [email protected]

Vintage Faire spokesperson Annie Amies made no comment when asked what would change for buyers on Tuesday. But the center will be able to lift its mask mandate, end its social distancing restrictions and possibly end any remaining customer restrictions from next week. However, employees will still need to wear masks.

As the state prepares to reopen, restaurants and retailers that have experienced a roller coaster of new rules and regulations last year are ready for what they hope will be one of the last changes in the pandemic era. .

“I prepare the staff and we read (the state reopening guidelines) three times. I want to make sure my staff are doing well, ”Party Guy’s Pogue said. “I’m not taking sides anyway (about the restrictions), but we have to play by the rules and some people don’t get it. “

Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has worked with The Modesto Bee since 1997 and covers a variety of topics including the arts and entertainment. His Business Beat column is broadcast several times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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