At odds with the law, some Bay Area businesses reopen before COVID-19 restrictions lifted

Some small business owners in the Bay Area said they can’t wait for county and state officials to lift COVID-19 restrictions. Some are reopening, a move that could save their business, but also put them at odds with the law.
On Tuesday, the owner of “Hairendipity Salon” in Vacaville tempted karma and the law by resuming business despite the existing shelter-in-place order.
“I’m more worried about the guaranteed loss I’m going to take if I continue to stay closed,” said owner Lia Rivera.
She said six weeks of the shutdown and mounting bills have forced her to become a scofflaw. She’s losing $15,000 per month. So as May approaches, Rivera is reopening her two-year-old salon. The first customer up is nurse Stacy Broudebush, to have her extensions redone.
“If you take proper precautions you decrease your risk of contracting the virus,” Broudebush said.
The push to resume business is sweeping from the North Bay to Southern California.
“I am a small business. I need to have the revenue to survive,” said Joseph Tahanians, owner of The Wine Cave in Montrose, CA.
From bars to salons, some said if they wait for the state to greenlight reopening California’s economy, they won’t have a business.
“I decided to open my doors so that the stylists in my salon can make money,” said Kira Boranian, owner of Lather Studio in Corona, CA.
For the handful of owners that have reopened their businesses, many more are clamoring to do the same, but online. They’re fuming over perceived inequities over who can remain open and who’s shut down. And worrying what will happen if another month goes by with no clear reopening date.
“The need is for there to be a vision of how the small business person can cope with this in a truly sanitary and helpful-to-society way. Because it does get worse and worse,” said Dr. Robert Chapman Wood, a strategic management professor at San Jose State University.
Rivera said she’s limiting the number of customers that enter the salon, using gloves, masks, and a sanitizer, while also strictly enforcing social distancing.
Vacaville Police Chief John Carli said he'll do outreach, not issue citations to try and get business owners to comply with existing orders.
“We certainly are concerned for our local businesses that are suffering and struggling,” said Carli. “Our intent is always to educate and find ways to work with the businesses.”
However, a growing number of business owners feel the best way to do that is to let them go back to work.