Most businesses in Corning have remained open as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to regulate everyday life. The regulations dictating business operations include the hours a business can be open, social distancing inside the business, and the requirement for customers to wear masks.
Businesses wanting to remain open have been required to submit, and have approved, a business COVID-19 plan to City Hall.
For Sandy Cairo, owner and operator of Cairo’s Flower and Gifts, 1124 Solano St., the pandemic hasn’t had much of an impact on her business.
“I had to close for about two weeks when everything first started up. But since then I have reopened with a business plan approved by the City and things are going really well,” she said. “Most of my business is done with orders online or over the telephone and so I don’t have to worry about a lot of walk-in customers.”
That is good news for Cairo, but for Angie Thorton, owner of The Quilt Basket in the old library on Fourth Street, walk-in business is what she is all about.
“I have been in business since September of last year and this COVID-19 crisis was really bad timing,” she said. “I had to lay-off my full-time employee and I’m pretty much having to work alone at this point.”
Thorton and many of her customers have been very busy making personal protection masks.
“We’ve had mask making workshop and a lot of people coming in for supplies to make masks,” she added. “We sent dozens of masks to Kaiser Hospital in Sacramento and to first responders in Orland who were in need.”
One of the positives to the COVID-19 shut down, Thorton says, is more people have the time to start up sewing project and craft projects now they are home more, and many are finishing up projects that have long remained undone.
“That has helped to take some of the financial pressure off during this crisis,” she said. “And in addition, I did receive one of the COVID-19 small business loans that has helped some.”
As soon as beauty shops were allowed to reopen most in the community did just that, including Red Door Salon on Solano Street at Fourth Street.
“I think we were one of the first businesses to submit our reopening plan to the City,” said Johnny Hernandez who owns the business with his wife, Mykala Hernandez.
He said business has been down some as a few of their former customers are staying home except for the absolute necessities, and some of the beauticians who rent booths at their salon have left and aren’t coming back.
“It has been hard,” Hernandez said. “We definitely lost some of our income, but things are slowly picking up. I think people are scared and many are still not leaving their homes much.”
Cairo said some of the pick-up in her business is people buying flowers as a “pick-me-up” for friends and family in light of the COVID-19 crisis and the impact it is having for some.
“It’s a way for people to share some cheerfulness,” she added. “A lot of people really need that right now.”
As restaurants at this point can’t have dine-in customers, the City Council discussed during their meeting on Tuesday options to assist those businesses to easily transition to outdoor dining and still remain within the state’s orders and regulations.
City Manager Kristina Millers said given the fact it is highly unlikely the City will be able to hold Food Truck Tuesday’s this year, she would like to use the $5,000 set aside in the 2020-21city budget for community events be used to purchase tables, chairs, awnings, shade structures and such, which would then be leased to Corning restaurants at no cost for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, and an additional $5,000 from the general reserve fund to further support the town’s businesses.
Restaurants would be required to fill out a simple temporary use permit to be able to conduct outdoor dining with all COVID-19 safety precautions in place with all permit fees waived for the period of the emergency.
A few restaurants in town have already been offering outdoor dining to customers, but the permit process and leasing of equipment will make things official and keep the city in line with state regulations.
With dine-in restaurants being limited, several of the fast food restaurant is town said their business is booming, such as Taco Bell and Jack-in-the-Box.