ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -- Many San Luis Obispo County business owners are expressing frustration they are now facing tough new COVID-19 restrictions.
On Thursday, after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new Regional Stay at Home Order, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department announced many businesses should begin to prepare for for additional restrictions and closures as soon as this weekend.
"I'm completely frustrated," said Renee Westerhuis, longtime owner The Green Room salon in Arroyo Grande. "I'm angry. I think it's completely ridiculous."
In the new Stay at Home Order, San Luis Obispo County has been grouped in the "Southern California" region, which also includes Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Riverside, San Bernardino counties.
"To lump us in with Los Angeles does not make any sense," said Westerhuis, who has operated her salon in the Village of Arroyo Grande for 32 years. "Their area is a large metropolis and is doing a lot worse than our area and here in San Luis Obispo County, we only have one ICU bed that is filled. We should definitely be a separate area.
According to the state, The Regional Stay Home Order will go into effect within 24 hours in regions with less than 15% ICU availability.
Businesses that will close or face significant restrictions include restaurants, personal care services, retail stores wineries, bars, breweries and distilleries and more.
For Westerhuis, a closure would be the third for her business this year.
"It is just an enormous financial hardship," said Westerhuis. "The expenses at the business, rent, utilities, insurance, all still need to be paid, to not mention the expenses at one's own residence, and yet, all of sudden, they're just taking away your whole income again."
Three doors down from The Green Room, Humdinger Brewing is preparing to modify its business once again.
The restaurant and brewery opened its doors right at the start of the pandemic on March 17.
"We were born in the middle of this and this is normal for us," said co-owner Justin Amy. "Being able to have full capacity seating is something we've never had the ability to have, so this is normal for us. This honestly doesn't phase me and we're going to adapt."
Should restrictions kick in, restaurants would be able to remain open, but with take-out, pick-up or delivery services only.
Outdoor dining would no longer be an option.
At Humdinger, Amy said the business is already planning to pivot its operation.
"We going to go, so you're going to get our beer in cans, in bottles," said Amy. "You're going to get our food delivered to your door, contactless, whatever makes our customers feel the most comfortable."
Even though the young business has faced many unforeseen challenges this year, Amy emphasized he is keeping a positive mindset.
"It's just another hurdle," said Amy. "We've been served them left and right since we opened and we're just ready to take it as it comes and get through. I don't want to dwell on the disappointment too much. I think that's what separates us. We want to keep a chipper attitude, go out here and adapt. People are still going to have the desire to want to drink beer and eat restaurant food."
About two miles away in Grover Beach, Lil' Bits Cafe owner Jason Goetz has a similar attitude.
"What are you going to do?" said Goetz. "I don't complain about the weather and I don't complain about things that are out of my control. I just try to spin it with a positive attitude and get on down the road."
Goetz admitted the potential restrictions will be challenging for the longtime popular breakfast restaurant.
"Our best plate doesn't travel well in a box and eat 15 minutes later, so it's a real shot on the chin for us," said Goetz, referring to having to move to a take-out only operation. "That cuts our business in half, or less than half. It's not where you want to be and it's not a very lucrative operation for our business in particular."
Despite the restrictions that would hamper his business, Goetz is hopeful they will ultimately lead to brighter days.
"Let's just tighten it up," said Goetz. "Everybody just get on board, and let's tighten this thing up and get on the other side of it. The quicker the better."