COVID-19 - One Year Later: A breakdown of COVID-19's impact on businesses

"Without a doubt my hardest year in business.“
Posted at 9:45 AM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 13:52:14-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — As we learned about this new pandemic, President Donald Trump's Coronavirus Task Force rolled out recommendations on how to deal with this new virus. It was touted as "15 Days to Slow the Spread”, but that quickly changed.

Industries across the country started shutting down and some would never reopen.

We're now in the third month of 2021 and it seems like every step the state is taking lately is towards reopening. But some businesses in Kern County didn't survive the pandemic. For those that did, some are still shaking off a nightmare year of financial setbacks.

"In the 28 years that I've worked here, it's without a doubt my hardest year in business,“ said Gino Valpredo, owner of Luigi's restaurant in East Bakersfield.

Valpredo was just one of many business owners who believed the pandemic would be a short-lived blow to revenue, only to come to find it was instead a crippling period for thousands of businesses.

It was March 2020 when Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of all bars, nightclubs, wineries, and brewpubs. A few days later he issued his first shelter-in-place order and non-essential activities outside the home were prohibited.

Dining-in restaurants, exercising inside a gym, and getting your hair done were among the many things the mandate did not allow.

"I really thought it was just going to be a temporary situation,” said Ramona Potts, owner of Atomic Kitten Salon in Downtown Bakersfield. "I didn't want anybody to be hurt or die because they came to get their hair done."

Additional restrictions would follow and new regulations would be handed down by Newsom. Those new reopening models would change several times.

"The most frustrating part was doing everything I possibly could to make sure I followed all the rules,” Potts said. “Everything was in place to keep everybody safe and had them close again."

Newsom rolled out a six-point framework to reopen the state on April 14, 2020. On May 26, 2020, he allowed several industries to reopen, including restaurants, gyms, and theaters. On July 1, 2020, he shut down indoor operations for those industries in 19 counties.

“We hired, then let 28 people go. Three weeks later, rehired 28 people,” Valpredo said. “10 of them didn’t want to come back, so it was insane.”

In July, Newsom announced new restrictions that would again order the closure of several industries. Contrary to the downward direction many businesses were going towards, some experienced the opposite.

Mark Pacheco, owner of a local gym in Downtown Bakersfield, decided not to follow the closures. He’s kept the weight of the governor’s order on the bench rack ever since.

In December, Newsom rolled out another shelter-in-place order that would introduce many of the same restrictions as March.

23ABC learned recently that the county and city don't keep track of business closures in the county, so a few chambers took it upon themselves to tally the number of businesses that closed down within their communities. Their final results are expected in the coming weeks.