MONTEREY PENINSULA, Calif. (KION) For many business owners, fears about a new spike in cases that could lead to another economic shutdown are palpable.
While some California counties are delaying plans to reopen, states like Texas are bringing some closures back. Locally, some businesses say they cannot survive another extended period closed.
The Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce issued a warning on Friday for their members that the consequences of people not doing their part could be another shutdown.
At Grace Boutique on Alvarado Street in Monterey, while there are some customers who steadily peruse the clothes and accessories, business is not as busy as before the pandemic.
While they are open, life is different.
"Taking extra precautions for sanitation and safety, steaming all of the clothing after people touch it and spending extra time sanitizing all the surfaces," said Brittani Reid-Bristol, an entrepreneur and the owner of Grace Boutique.
Grace Boutique is an example the chamber can point to as a business doing its part.
The chamber sent the warning notice to its members about the possibility of going backwards and seeing restrictions return. With so many examples across the nation right now, they fear California could tighten stay-at-home orders once again if COVID-19 numbers continue rising.
"There are rumors going on that some time next week that if the cases are still going up, that the governor may enforce some stiff actions on some counties," said Frank Geisler, the president and CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
Just Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered Imperial County in southern California to reinstate its shelter-in-place order. While Monterey County cases are increasing, it is not part of the state's watch list.
The health department tells KION there are no plans to tighten restrictions right now either. But in this unpredictable new normal, that could change very quickly.
"The fear I think for every small business owner at this moment is that another shutdown could cause them to not be able to reopen," said Reid-Bristol.
"To see the fact that a lot of businesses are being shutdown due to all of this is very heartbreaking for me because I come from a family of restauranteurs, you know people who have worked hard for their earning," said Damian Trujillo, who studies at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey.
One thing is clear: it is up to every person to do their part in following the guidelines.
"I just want our business members to know that it's really critical that they enforce that, that they enforce that within their own employees and also with their guests, clients and patrons," said Geisler.
"There is going to be a spike in cases and we have to just keep watching it," said Reid-Bristol. "Our businesses depend on people remaining safe and respectful of the regulations."
The chamber says 25 to 30 percent of restaurants are already out of business right now. Another shutdown could be even more devastating.
UPDATE 6/26/2020 5:30 p.m. Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce CEO Frank Geisler now tells KION that the chamber's concerns about the possibility of tightening Stay at Home restrictions comes from rumors he has heard and not information or a notice from the State.
Geisler also said in an interview that he is not saying that there are specific local areas will start fining and inspecting businesses, but says that is what he has seen in general around the country.
Karen Smith with the Monterey County Health Department says the county has no plans to tighten Shelter in Place orders.
Read the original tweet from the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce with a warning to members below.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce is warning its members that the State may be tightening its Stay at Home orders next week.
The chamber of commerce said the information comes from inside sources on the state and local level, but the Monterey County Health Department tells KION that there is no plan to tighten restrictions.
In a notice to members, the chamber of commerce said business owners and employees are seen as generally complying with requirements set out by health officials, but said many customers are not willing to wear masks and maintain distance, especially in restaurants and smaller retail stores.
The chamber of commerce said the sources told it that the restrictions will tighten if compliance does not improve, and it could mean closures of businesses and an end to some activities.
The chamber of commerce said law enforcement in some areas have a plan to start inspecting and fining business.
To prevent closures, the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce said businesses must require customers to follow guidelines from health officials, even if it means asking customers to leave the business or job site if they ignore requirements.
"At the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, we want to maintain a balanced, middle ground between opening everything up with minimal restrictions and closing non-essential businesses until there is a vaccine. This means criticism from both sides. Our goal is to minimize sickness and deaths while allowing commerce to continue under prudent safety restrictions," the chamber said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Monterey County Health Department tells KION that the county is fine and there is no plan for tightening restrictions.
At a news conference Friday morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Imperial County to reimpose Stay at Home orders due to rising COVID-19 numbers.
Read the full message from the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce below.