Local businesses and community centers balance efforts to reopen indoors and safety concerns
On Feb. 24, state guidelines allowed Yolo County to move into the red tier. The move allows local businesses to either expand capacity or resume indoor operations.
Fitness centers and gyms can now operate at 10% maximum occupancy, places of worship can operate at 25% maximum occupancy and restaurants can operate at 25% maximum occupancy. A full list of all changes can be found on Yolo County’s website.
Assistant general manager at Woodstock’s Pizza Alexandria Yon explained that having more indoor dining space in addition to outdoor dining, pick-up and delivery has had a positive impact on operations.
“Currently, we’re still doing pick-up and delivery and outside dining as well, but on busy days it’s helpful to have added indoor seating options available with the 25% capacity,” Yon said.
Yon explained that ensuring the safety of workers and customers is a top priority, so Woodstock’s Pizza enforces safety precautions such as wearing masks.
“We have masks for team members, and we have QR codes for customers to scan for our menu,” Yon said. “For tables, we have signs that our bussers flip depending on the availability of the table. For example, red signs are for unavailable tables and green means a table is ready.”
The expanded indoor capacity helps customers regain a sense of normalcy in their dining experience, according to Yon.
“It’s another level of normalcy, to be able to sit down with your family as opposed to only being able to order pick-up or delivery,” Yon said. “We hope to find a balance between safety and bringing back a level of normalcy.”
Yon explained that while it is important to remain cautious, opening even at a limited capacity is ultimately a positive step forward for the local economy.
“Opening back up more and supporting local businesses helps the economy,” Yon said. “I don’t think we should shift everything back to what it was all at once, but this is a move in a positive direction.”
Associate Superintendent of Support Services for the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) Laura Juanitas explained that the move into the red tier brings DJUSD closer to the possibility of in-person learning.
“The Board of Education set up parameters for a hybrid reopening,” Juanitas said. “As a county, we would have to be in the red tier for two weeks before we could return to any kind of in-person learning. We hope to reopen more sometime in mid-April when more teachers have been vaccinated.”
In addition to local businesses, places of worship are now allowed to operate indoors with 25% maximum occupancy. Despite the increase in allowable occupancy, Reverend Dr. Brandon Austin from the Davis United Methodist Church explained that the church is not reopening in-person services just yet.
“There’s a chain of command—we’re abiding by direction from leadership from the California-Nevada United Method Church office in Sacramento,” Austin said. “Currently, we are considering an outdoor in-person worship service, but we’re playing it conservatively.”
Austin explained that the Davis United Methodist Church is taking great care to put measures in place to ensure the safety of congregants when in-person worship does resume.
“We’re being very cautious partly because of the variants,” Austin said. “When we do have in-person services, we will be monitoring for temperature, requiring face masks and making sure that seating is at least eight feet apart. We also don’t allow for singing.”
Reverend Austin explained that while they have been cautious about in-person activities, even with the move to the red tier, the congregation has found other ways to worship and stay connected.
“We’ve offered worship services every Sunday since the restrictions were put in place via live streaming, pre-recorded services and Zoom,” Austin said. “There is a silver lining though. Our online presence has made it possible to reach others who weren’t necessarily able to join us in previous years, so we hope to continue some of these services in collaboration with other congregations.”
While they are proceeding with caution, Reverend Austin explained that he is excited about the prospect of in-person worship.
“Church is very much about community and about being together,” Austin said. “We miss singing with each other and enjoying each other’s presence. Ultimately, though, we are being very patient.”
Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes — email@example.com