We’re not going to be 100% “back to normal,” but on June 15, things will look and feel as normal in San Diego County and across the state of California as they will in 15 months.
The state has unveiled a comprehensive new plan by June 15, shaped by the ends of the color-coded tier system and mask mandate. Looking ahead, however, the changes may be easier said than done.
No tier system means that most companies will be able to operate without capacity restrictions until mid-June. It also means that many companies are giving their employees permission to go back to work.
Two of the biggest questions about what this will really be like is how companies and workers will make the changes. And how will workers with families keep their balance?
Restaurant owners have no problem getting customers, but they do have trouble hiring staff. NBC 7’s Dave Summers spoke to a few about the problem.
In preparation for the relaxed rules, the California regulators are working on their own safety rules that should apply to employees. One thing is clear, however: San Diego County is in dire need of employees.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership just released new hiring numbers in the leisure and hospitality industry, and the numbers are falling.
Many places are struggling to fill vacancies and staffing shortages are becoming a more pressing issue in places like Little Italy.
That’s because restaurants like Little Italy have no shortage of customers even with restrictions still in place.
“We need help. I tell you we need help. Desperate help,” said Palo Tagliani from the Solunto restaurant.
When the indoor dining area closed, Tagliani expanded onto the street with a pavilion-like outdoor setting. Now he is setting his own capacity limits so that his kitchen is not overwhelmed.
“We call everyone like friends of friends, like friends of people who work here,” said Tagliani.
Next door in Davanti Enoteca, instead of the menu, there is a sign on the front that reads “We issue weekly stimulus checks, see manager.”
The manager says it should be motivation.
“Looks like they’d like to get back to work, but as long as they get more money from the federal government, I’m not blaming them,” he said.
“Despite the staff shortage, visitors we spoke to here in Little Italy say they have seen no decline in service quality or attitude among the staff.”
If the pandemic unemployment bonus is indeed one of the reasons people are not returning to work, the lifting of government restrictions by June 15 could pose some problems. The pandemic unemployment benefit does not expire until September.
“If we have to work in this state like June, July and August, it will be difficult,” said Tagliani.
On the other hand, Tagliani said some of his employees sign up for double shifts.
Some states have already cut extra unemployment benefits to get people back to work, but some experts say these benefits may not stop everyone from getting back to work. Some people may still fear that there will be further increases in some cases and others may still struggle to find childcare for their children.
Child carers struggle to keep up with demand after parents return to work. NBC 7’s Allie Raffa has the story.
Many daycare centers had to close because of the pandemic, or they are slowly being used to full capacity again.
Ask a parent and they will tell you that help has already been expensive and difficult to find. Now with more returning to the office, daycare workers say it takes more organization and focus on child health to stay successful.
“I had to find a place to sit [my son] because I had to return full-time, ”said mother Lindsey Roberts. “It’s hard to work at home with your kids.”
It’s a routine that more and more parents are breaking off as the relaxation of state COVID guidelines brings them back to the office.
California is slated to fully reopen its economy on the same day that San Diego County’s schools finish their school years. As more parents seek childcare, providers struggle to keep up with demand.
Aung Ong and Pyone Thet are a married couple who run the San Diego Brighter Daycare from home.
“Last year when everything was closed, our business was reduced by 50%,” said Og. “Business picked up around March. We’re almost full in the house again. “
The couple employs one person and takes care of 6 to 8 children depending on the day. According to state law, they have a capacity of 14 children and they say the place fills up quickly.
“This year, when people get vaccinated and things open up again, we get tons of calls,” Ong said, adding that parents should call sooner rather than later when looking for childcare.
And now that business is picking up, the industry is facing a new post-pandemic challenge, according to Ong.
“We also have to keep the facility particularly clean,” he said. “When they come in, we measure their oxygen. Just extra work we have to do to make sure children are safe. “
The couple take their roles so seriously because the pandemic hit them personally, Ong said.
“Uncle Johnson and Uncle Joel passed away from COVID in May,” he said. “COVID-19 not only affected me and my family, but also my extended family. That is real.”
Some of the bottlenecks may decrease over the next few months as more vendors enter the market or increase capacity.
According to the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, 70% of families with children in San Diego have two working parents who need childcare, and only 30% of children in the county who need a place actually end up one.