SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Santa Barbara County is in its sixth week of the renewed stay-at-home order. The order was to limit a third surge in COVID-19 cases. However, it hasn’t worked. New confirmed cases on November 19 when the order was announced was 13,157. While on December 28 there were 41,720 new cases. And in the last six weeks, December 26 saw the highest new confirmed cases at 64,987.
California’s governor Gavin Newsom said the spike in cases and limited capacity of intensive care beds will extend the stay-at-home order. But this time the order will come with some relief to local businesses. On December 30 at 6 a.m., small businesses can apply for a grant from $500 million dollars.
For seven of the nine months of the pandemic Salon Patine on Upper State Street has been closed due to stay-at-home restrictions.
Sarah Van Bourgondien co-owns the salon with Rob Hofberg. "As my business partner says," said Van Bourgondien, "it's better to go into debt than out of business. And I've got 25 employees I don't want to lose their jobs."
Stay-at-home orders have hit salons hard. And Van Bourgondien said it's unfair.
"California is the only state that salons are not open," said Van Bourgondien. "That's frustrating considering we take a test in safety and sanitation."
However, this stay-at-home order extension comes with some relief. And Downtown Santa Barbara is reaching out to small businesses to help them get ready and apply for grants. They are also signing up small business owners for the state-run daily webinars to answer questions about the program.
Downtown Santa Barbara's executive director, Robin Elander said, "We're trying to get all of this information out to our Downtown Business communities so that all businesses can know they can apply. And also we're partnering with the Economic Development Collaborative, who has additional resources for troubleshooting asking questions."
According to the grant application to qualify a business must sell less than two and a half million dollars a year and show at least 25% loss of sales since last year. How much a business could receive is based on sales. The application window is from Wednesday December 30 to Friday January 8. And the owners at Salon Patine will be online ready to go, right at 6 a.m. when it starts.
"We need it going forward to help pay the medical insurance for the employees who choose to have medical insurance here," said Hofberg. "And just keep the doors open, phone bill all of that."
State health officials said the best way to end the stay-at-home order is for people to not gather with anyone outside their immediate household and wear masks outside.
California Health and Human Services director Dr. Mark Ghaly said, "We have reached a point where COVID-19 is so widespread in California that just leaving the house is a risky behavior, which is why we adopted the Regional Stay at Home Order. This is not about which sector is riskier than another sector, it’s about that fact that any mixing among households presents a risk of disease transmission.”
Downtown Santa Barbara encourages people to buy online and takeout to support local businesses, especially on Takeout Tuesday.
To apply for the CA Small Business grant, click here.
The application period begins Wednesday at 6 a.m. and ends January 8 at 11:59 p.m.