Shelter-in-Place hurting Northern California businesses as similar orders considered across nation

Ritu Jha-

Ranjan Dey, owner of New Delhi Restaurant in San Francisco, said it deeply touched his heart when he closed the doors of his restaurant last night after shelter-in-place was announced to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“New Delhi Restaurant is a 32-year-old Legacy Business in San Francisco. And I have been in the hotel and restaurant business over 55 years. I have never been so scared in my life with a feeling of the impending doom,” he told indica.

“I am afraid I am going to lose everything,” said Dey, whose restaurant was granted Legacy Business status by San Francisco’s Office of Small Business in January this year.

He said at New Delhi Restaurant from Day One he has made it a priority to help the community with all their charitable work.

“Today we are hoping for a miracle in the form of some help to overcome this extreme hardship. We are calling upon all our friends, patrons, our supporters, our community, our city, our state and our country for help. This will be one of our defining moments. I believe together we can overcome,” he said, hoping to reopen the doors on April 7.

Another long-time owner in the restaurant business, and a community leader, Jayaram Komati, whose restaurant Swagat’s doors are always open to feed students, said the business has been badly impact. They used to get 150 to 200 people during lunch time. But now they get hardly 20.

One of the owners of Pleasanton’s Frontier Spice Surjeet Klair said, “This year business seems to be over; we are in a loss. We have stopped buffet service.”

In a dramatic and unprecedented move was made to overcome the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic, seven Bay Area counties on Monday, March 16, announced sweeping shelter-in-place restrictions effectively confining millions of residents to their homes for three weeks with exceptions for essential work, food or other needs.

The new orders by health officers in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties appear to be the most aggressive public response to coronavirus anywhere in the U.S. so far.

The directives are criminally enforceable and go well beyond Monday’s stepped-up calls for increased “social distancing” from the nation’s capital, evoking lockdowns in parts of hard-hit Europe.

As of Tuesday evening, there were 6,362 coronavirus cases in the United States and 108 deaths, including 12 in California, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Contra Costa County reported at midday Monday 34 confirmed cases with no deaths, and Santa Clara County had 138 cases and 4 deaths as of Monday evening, including two deaths on Sunday. Both men had been hospitalized. One victim was in his 50s, and the other in his 80s.

The threat of coronavirus and its history of overwhelming health care systems where it grew out of control, such as in China and Italy, has prompted the unprecedented decision to lock down six Bay Area counties, including Contra Costa.

Across the seven counties, many businesses were ordered to close, and residents allowed to leave their homes for only “essential” reasons until April 7. Essential reasons include getting health care, shopping for groceries and supplies, caring for family members and exercising outdoors.

“I recognize that this is unprecedented,” Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Monday. “If I had thought last Friday’s announcement (to close schools) was hard, this one is exponentially harder. But we must come together to do this. We know we need to do this, and we know we need a regional approach. We all must do our part.”

Essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, veterinary offices, gas stations and banks may also remain open under the order.

Health officers acknowledged Monday how difficult the extraordinary measures will be for families already struggling to cope with the rapid upending of their lives, between children told to stay home from school, businesses urging employees to work from home and events canceled. But they said the dire threat of the outbreak makes a regional response necessary.

“We are in a rough place, and we are going to have difficult times ahead of us,” San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow said. “The measures we’re putting in place are temporary, but they will last longer than any of us want. This is the time to unite as a community, come to each other’s aid and dig really deep to find your best inner-self and pull out all the compassion, gratitude and kindness you can.”

The guidance, they said, comes after substantial input from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and best practices from other health officials around the world.

The counties and state have been slowly clamping down on public gatherings over the past two weeks in an effort to flatten the curve, or slow illnesses.

Across the US, more than 6,300 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and there have been at least 110 deaths. New York is the state with the highest number of cases in the nation, with at least 1,374 and at least 10 deaths as of Tuesday, March 17.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated e Wednesday that  a shelter-in-place order in New York City or anywhere else in his  stats was unlikely, but Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he is seriously considering such an order since  he fears the number of cases will continue to climb in the next few weeks.

The mayor said that a  Shelter-in-Place order, which would essentially require residents to stay in their homes and keep outside social contact may be imposed in the next two days.

“New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order,” de Blasio said. “The decision will be made in the next 48 hours.”