SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Many businesses across the central coast remain shuddered; a reminder of how serious the threat of COVID-19 remains.
The latest stay at home order, issued in November, requires businesses classified as 'family entertainment centers', like bowling alleys, to remain closed while in the purple tier.
Ashlee Carranza, part-owner of Rancho Bowl, explained the business simply could not pay their bills or employees if they did not open.
"We're just continuing to keep the money as tight as we can to last as long as we could, but after nine months and with minimal PPP money coming," she said, "It is just getting harder and harder."
Rancho Bowl is not alone in defying state orders. Santa Maria Brewing Co. also opened last month.
But opening is not always easy and the costs associated with reopening are big.
"We were one of the most sanitary businesses before. We clean the balls. We spray Lysol on the shoes. We're constantly cleaning," Ashlee said, pointing to the lanes, "Now, to take that a step further what we're asking is when you're done with your lane, leave the ball and your shoes. We have fog machines that come around so every surface is hit."
The increased sanitization is a necessary extra step, but simply being safe and sanitary does not keep the lights on.
Wade Stevers, the operations manager for the bowling alley, emphasized how important the business being open is for the employees.
"I'm a month away from losing my house. Unemployment isn't going to cover all my bills, my unemployment claim," Stevers said, "Unless we go back to work there's fifty people here that are going to to lose their job for good and possibly not have a home."
We reached out to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department for comment on businesses reopening in defiance of the state's stay at home order.
"We are in one of the deadliest moments of this pandemic. It is crucial for our community to understand the impact one decision to gather can have on them and their loved ones. We may be spreading COVID-19 unknowingly in moments when we let our guard down. We must remain vigilant and keep our distance from those that do not live in our homes. Non-essential outings are not recommended as our community faces its largest surge in COVID-19 cases."Jackie Ruiz, SB County Public Health Dept