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Kern County businesses excited to reopen even with limited capacity

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Posted at 11:15 AM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 14:15:29-04

On Tuesday Kern County Public Health Director Matt Constantine announced a big step forward as the county is officially out of the most restrictive tier in California's reopening system and now moving on to the Red Tier.

"So we have finally for 2 weeks in a row, met the state's metrics for the less restrictive red tier, this is allows for businesses to open," said Constantine.

Those businesses include restaurants, museums, zoos, aquariums, and movie theaters which can resume indoor services with modifications at 25 percent capacity inside, or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Other sectors like gyms and fitness centers can also operate inside at 10 percent capacity.

Jared Robertson, the regional director for the In-Shape clubs. There are 7 of them in Kern County. He said fitness is an essential business which he's now thrilled to offer again inside.

"This is just a blessing. It's big for fitness, in general, to be reopening, but we are excited to welcome back our members and our team members, even at any capacity, we'll take 10 percent for now, but we are going to be safe and stay open."

Sliding into the red tier has been a long time in the making for restaurants. Many have been working with outdoor dining options often at odds with hot weather and poor air quality. Jake Kim, the owner of Jin Sushi in Downtown Bakersfield said 25 percent capacity inside is better than nothing.

"We've been waiting a long time. Me and all my employees are going to get so excited. When you go in, it's a totally different game, you have music, you have AC on, we even have chef's inside working together, so why not. It's a better opportunity for everyone, especially business owners."

Houses of worship like the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton Catholic Church have been streaming services online. Now they are looking forward to welcoming back their guests.

"I think it's a necessity now because people have been restricted, unable to participate in the mass physically for such a long time. There's a real experience that comes from attending the mass and actually doing it physically inside the building," said Deacon David Rodriguez of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton Catholic Church

In order to stay in the Red Tier Kern County must maintain fewer than 7 cases per 100,000 residents and have less than an 8 percent positivity rate.

Matt Constantine: "This is not a time to stop."

Though this is a big accomplishment county officials want to urge people not to let off on safety protocols, stating that if our case and positivity rates go back up there is no doubt the county can move back into the Purple Tier.