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How statewide curfew will impact Coachella Valley businesses

California Curfew

A statewide curfew went into effect Saturday night at 10 p.m. through 5 a.m., kicking off a month-long stay-at-home order. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the curfew during a briefing last week in response to a spike in coronavirus cases.

California's acting public health officer, Dr. Erica S. Pan, issued a release stating that "these immediate actions will help reduce community spread, protect individuals at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, and prevent the state's health care delivery system from becoming overwhelmed. Reducing movement and mixing of individual Californians is critical to decreasing transmission, hospitalizations, and deaths."

"It has been a roller coaster, we’ve been up and down," said Kevin Steele, The Beer Hunter co-owner.

Like many valley restaurants, the La Quinta restaurant and bar has had to pivot between indoor seating, outdoor seating, and now reducing its hours.

"Now just having the patio open, we’re way down to less than 25% of what we would normally be doing," said Steele.

The Beer Hunter usually stays open until 2 a.m. With the new order, last call will be much earlier for patrons.

"Having to close here at 10 o’clock is just going to kill our business," said Steele.

The interior of the restaurant is noticeably altered, with booths separated by plexiglass and tables distanced further apart. Steele said a large portion of their revenue is made off the late night rush.

An even bigger obstacle presents itself as the curfew is enacted just days before expecting their busiest night.

"Normally our busiest night of the year is the night before Thanksgiving. Everybody is coming back from college, or school and they’re coming in with their families," said Steele.

Another challenge is being left with thousands of dollars worth of food that is meant to feed patrons.

"You stock up on food and then all of a sudden you have no patrons to eat the food, so we are losing. Every time this happens we end up throwing away food, giving it away to the food banks, doing what we can-- that’s a loss of inventory and loss of money we have to eat every time this happens."

The statewide curfew applies to nonessential businesses. Takeout will still be possible.

"I don’t think there should be a curfew. If you’re sick, stay at home," said Palm Desert resident, Terrance Ross.

"I think it’s fine. I’m sure lots of young people will be a little upset about it," said Palm Springs resident, Sharon Saxe.

Other restaurants normally close before 10 p.m. While many will be impacted, others will only need to make minor changes.

"For us we are very committed to being as compliant as possible in all aspects. Whether we would have had to change our hours or not, we would have," said Sweet Basil California Eatery general manager, Lael Bailey.

At a time when the restaurant industry has been rocked by the pandemic, Sweet Basin California Eatery opened on El Paso on Veteran's Day.

"We stop seating at 8:45 p.m. Technically we close at 9 p.m., but obviously we’re going to complete the meals for any clients that seat late," said Bailey.

Although the curfew won't impact service, Lael said they will be mindful about employees.

"I think the only thing it really impacts is making sure that our staff has time to get home before curfew," Bailey said.

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Shelby Nelson


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