San Diego County Partly Reopens, But Not Soon Enough for Some Businesses

One year ago today, California bars, breweries, and eateries stopped serving customers indoors, shifting to delivery and take-out services only—as ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom. On March 19, 2020, he issued a “stay-at-home” order for all Californians that went into effect the next day. Restrictions would later lift only to be reimposednearly as harsh during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as the pandemic‘s early-declaration days.

Today, after months of onerous prohibitions upon local businesses, San Diego County rose from the most restrictive tier, which permits malls and retailers to operate at 50-percent capacity; aquariums, churches, movie theaters, museums, restaurants, and zoos to allow customers indoors at 25-percent capacity; and gyms and hotels to operate at 10-percent capacity. Oh joy. Beat me with the stick, because it feels so good compared to the baseball bat you were whacking with.

I haven’t yet found a reliable source for the number of businesses, particularly small ones, forced to close because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, but data released five days ago by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation offers some insight:

Benchmark revisions revealed that San Diego hemorrhaged 248,000 jobs between February and April 2020, which is 25,000 more job losses than initially reported. Leisure, Hospitality, and Retail accounted for around 16,000 of those additional losses. By the end of the year, revisions showed 30,100 fewer nonfarm payroll jobs in the region compared to the initial estimates. The additional loss of jobs also meant that the unemployment rate was revised higher. Initial estimates showed the rate peaking at 15.2 percent in April 2020; revised data revealed that joblessness peaked at a significantly higher 15.9 percent…

San Diego’s job market is entering 2021 on a weaker footing than initially thought. More jobs need to be recouped, and there are fewer businesses to help carry that weight. Together, this implies that the recovery will take longer than anticipated even after San Diegans have been vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus.

The Featured Image, captured on March 1, 2021, using Leica Q2 Monochrom, visits one of the pandemic lockdown’s many business casualties—an unnamed Mexican restaurant in Hillcrest that closed up after 15 years’ operation. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/2000 sec, 28mm; 8:53 a.m. PST. Photo is composed as shot and, after several fitful editing efforts, is presented unaltered.

I see more empty stores in the area most every day. How long can these establishments continue before the response to COVID-19 kills them? Honestly, I don’t want to know. But someday, a post-mortem will reveal all.