Red tier business reopening met with cautious optimism

With COVID cases on the decline, San Mateo and Marin Counties have allowed most businesses to resume limited-capacity indoor service.

The two counties have moved from the purple tier into the less restrictive red tier.

On Wednesday, restaurants, bars and gyms welcomed customers.

Working out indoors resumed at 5 a.m. at Physique Magnifique in South San Francisco. 

"We just might have to close down again at one point. Let's make the best of this run and prepare for next time," says Jim Wilson, co-owner of Physique Manifique.

The owners say they hope there will be no more shutdowns, but know it's always a possibility.

One client says receiving personal training over Zoom doesn't quite work out the way she'd like.

"When I'm here, there's people around that are all working hard too, so the energy is better you know. People can see you. You don't want to be slacking off," says client Lori Garcia-Rovetta with a laugh. 

Across the street at Cafe 382, owner Kosta Panos says during the shutdowns, he's relied on takeout and outdoor dining, but that they don't make up for the lack of indoor dining.

Panos says his restaurant offered indoor service Wednesday as soon as it was allowed.

"There's nothing like sitting inside a restaurant, getting the food super hot right to your table," says Panos, "You sit outside, sometimes the food gets cold 'cause you're outside in the cold. There's nothing you can do."     

Despite indoor dining now an option, many people chose to eat outside.

"I feel more comfortable eating outdoors. Eating-you have your mask off. You're opening your mouth. You're chewing. You're swallowing. You're talking," says Rahul Agarwal, a restaurant patron.

Next door at Brew 382, patrons say they had been waiting for this day to enjoy a drink indoors. 

]"Knowing that you can be either outside or inside.

There's some relief coming our way with people getting the vaccine," says Dave Peterson of South San Francisco.

Patrons say they feel safe coming to a favorite spot where they and the establishment take precautions.

"I'm a double-masker. There's two masks here. I make sure I stay as safe as possible," says Jef Friedel of South San Francisco.   

As for Physique Magnifique, the owners started offering outdoor classes at a nearby park and training online to stay afloat.

Should there be another shutdown, they say they're ready to roll with the punches.

"I would not be surprised if we get closed again especially with the variant," says Futaba Takashima, co-owner of Physique Magnifique.  

Many people say they're cautiously optimistic, but that the pandemic has taught them to expect the unexpected.