Frustrated business owners confused over stay-at-home order extension uncertainty

Bay Area health officials spent much of Friday in a holding pattern to see if, as expected, the most restrictive stay-at-home rules would be extended.

We are still waiting to see if the most strict restrictions yet, will remain in place.  

The 11 greater Bay Area county ICU availability is currently 3.5%.

With so few Intensive Care Unit beds open, the region finds itself way below the 15% needed to end the most recent three-week stay-at-home order and business restrictions due to expire Friday.

In Marin County, a 2 p.m. virtual community meeting to talk about shelter-in-place was still not sure of the fate of the restrictions.

"The stay-at-home order was due to expire on the 8th," said Marin County Health Officer Brad Willis. "It is a state order and we're waiting for the state to make that announcement. But, we issued a press release yesterday forecasting that we fully expect that order to be extended given that the numbers are heading in the wrong direction." said Dr. Willis.

Still no final order.

"I think more heads up would be helpful," said Hayward Chamber of Commerce CEO Kim Huggett. He said this is frustrating to businesses, who need some sort of lead time to get back on track business wise, employee wise and consumer wise. This is especially true for restaurants.

"We've gone from shutdown, to take out only, to patio, to dine-in at 25% now back to take out only," said Mr. Huggett.

But, other so-called non-essential businesses are frustrated as well with communications from the state government.

"We have people in Sacramento whose job it is, sole job, to support small business. So, why can't they anticipate the needs here?" said Stephen Baiter, director of the Eastbay Economic Development Alliance.

"It's hard for businesses not to be able to know to operate in a environment of a lot of uncertainty, and certainly, that leads to a lot of frustration and confusion," said Mr. Baiter.

But, no one is saying that anything should go; only that advanced notice is very much needed.

"Really being able to stop that and reverse the trends that we've been seeing over the last few weeks is essential to being able to get back to that place where businesses can operate with more predictability and certainty," said Baiter.

The other big side of this issue is that consumers need to be able to navigate the constantly changing mandates to know what is and what is not allowed.