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More Citrus Heights businesses close again, following rise in COVID-19 cases

A closed sign with hand-written note at a salon in Citrus Heights after officials ordered salons and barber shops to once again close to reduce the spread of COVID-19.// M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip–
Just when local businesses were regaining some lost income from the first round of COVID-19 closures, a new health order issued this week had businesses scrambling to adapt, or close.

Effective July 14, restaurants in Sacramento County can no longer offer dine-in eating. Gyms, salons, barbershops, indoor malls, tattoo parlors, protests, worship services and offices for sectors deemed “non-essential” have also been ordered to shut down, unless operations are modified to take place outdoors.

Hector Alcazar, general manager of El Tapatio restaurant in Citrus Heights, said he has about half of his usual staff working again. He said he had to lay off about 95% of his employees when closure orders first took effect last March.

Alcazar has taken advantage of the city’s recent decision to allow restaurants to use a portion of their parking spaces for outdoor seating, but said it isn’t the same as having customers in the restaurant. The outdoor dining area can seat about 150, and he has set up tents and a fence along with portable toilets for customers. El Tapatio can normally seat about 400 people in the restaurant, he said.

Alcazar has had to hire additional security to watch over the outdoor area at night, and worries that vacant restaurants nearby aren’t good for the community.

“You look around me, you know, everybody’s closed. Everybody’s gone. I’m pretty much the only one on the block now.” Alcazar said. “I’m not going to give up that easy.”

He said inspectors from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control came by El Tapatio unannounced last week, but the restaurant passed the inspection.

Louise Cordray, owner of Java Cherry coffee shop on Van Maren Lane, said the salon next door to her coffee shop closed again, which affects her business.

“Coffee shops and hair salons, they feed off of each other,” Cordray said. ”More traffic here just makes more business for everybody.”

The small business owner argued that salons shouldn’t have to close.

“Salons are more than just getting your hair or nails done,” she said. “They wash hair, clip toenails, help with basic hygiene with people. And they’re already regulated by the industry.”

A sign on the salon next door dated July 13 said the establishment would be closed for the next three weeks.

Cordray is worried that the closures will lead to an increase in vacant commercial space, which often leads to vandalism and blight.

Elsewhere in the city, other businesses have closed, including a costume shop which closed its doors permanently last month.

The Citrus Heights location of Gold’s Gym, which recently reopened last month, posted an announcement on social media Tuesday saying the location is again closed.

The Sacramento Business Journal reported that another gym in Citrus Heights, Crunch Fitness, was sued last month for nearly $100,000 in back rent and other charges, according to a complaint filed in Sacramento Superior Court.

Calls to Aspire Hair Design, a local salon that recently reopened, went unanswered Thursday.

The latest state orders came after Sacramento County and other counties, were placed on the state’s monitoring list. According to health officials, Sacramento County exceeded a 10% increase in hospitalizations for more than three consecutive days and also had just 16% of its ICU beds available.

As of Thursday, the Sacramento County Public Health online dashboard showed a total of 452 ICU beds countywide, with 380 of them in use. Fifty-six beds are taken by patients with COVID-19, up from a low of eight last month.

See the County Health dashboard: click here

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