Pacific Beach gyms, bars, tattoo shops and more get back to business after coronavirus closures
Many Pacific Beach gyms, galleries, bars and other businesses are open again as San Diego has moved further into the process of easing coronavirus-related restrictions following closures that began in March.
The state announced guidelines for many types of businesses and other venues, including child care, casinos, wineries, movie theaters, hotels, zoos, family entertainment centers (such as bowling alleys), community swimming pools and aquariums, to reopen beginning June 12.
A new phase beginning June 19 allowed nail salons, tattoo shops, massage therapists and personal care businesses such as waxing services to reopen as well.
Then county officials paused the reopening of any additional businesses and venues because of an increase in community outbreaks of the virus, defined as three or more cases from different households with a common exposure location.
The reopening guidelines include a long list of conditions, led by requirements for social distancing and face coverings and regular, heavy sanitation.
For gyms to reopen, they must follow an extensive list of rules to keep the facilities clean, machines and patrons spaced out and interactions limited among everyone in the building.
Staff members may be behind sneeze-guard barriers, while members are discouraged from shaking hands or bumping fists.
Guests’ temperatures must be checked upon arrival, and employees must self-check at home before their shifts begin.
The state says patrons “should consider” wearing masks during workouts.
At Performance360, a group training and coaching gym at 4515 Gresham St. in Pacific Beach, the staff had been prepared to reopen for a month and was just waiting for the green light, according to owner Dave Thomas.
“We kind of took it in our own hands to prepare the gym to what we viewed as safe, vs. what the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] was saying, what the government was saying, because California government was just so delayed in giving gyms any sort of guidance,” Thomas said. “And they kind of lumped us all into a one-size-fits-all, when we knew that we weren’t going to be the same as a 24 Hour Fitness, because ours is a personalized studio.”
To prepare for reopening, Performance360 taped off 10-by-10-foot square sections on the gym floor called “workout zones” for members to stand while they work out. Between each workout zone is a pathway about 2 to 3 feet wide, ensuring there’s about 10 to 12 feet between people.
“We want to try to go personally above the restrictions just to make sure our customers and the community feel like when they come into our business, we want to be the one place they don’t have to worry about it,” Thomas said.
By the time official state guidelines were released, Performance360 had already met all of them, he said.
Performance360 members must sign up online for workouts to ensure there won’t be too many people in a class. Typically, a class can have up to 25 people; now each is limited to 12. Thomas said the gym has had to add more classes to accommodate everyone in the membership.
Classes also have been reduced from one hour to 50 minutes to allot more time for cleaning between classes.
Masks are required at all times, except when standing in a personal workout zone.
Members get their own equipment to use for each workout, so there’s no sharing. Members are provided with a bottle of hospital-grade virucide spray that they use at the end of the workout to clean their equipment. The entire gym is sprayed between workout blocks.
Gallery at Land’s End, a custom photo framing shop and boutique selling local merchandise at 4984 Cass St., opened about a week and a half before the official June 12 openings when owner Thayne Yungman learned the shop’s custom picture framing supplier would be able to start shipping again.
Gallery at Land’s End’s efforts to welcome back customers include complimentary 2-ounce hand sanitizer for those who make an appointment online. The hand sanitizer is provided by Fade Away Candle Co.
Yungman said his shop is cleaned regularly and often leaves the doors and windows open, with an air circulator running around the clock, in an effort to ensure safety and comfort.
“There is no pigeon-holing any certain type of person as to how they are taking or being affected by this,” Yungman said. “So when they come in, the safest thing to do is to treat them as if they are taking this extremely seriously.”
He said customers have been looking forward to getting back to personalizing their homes. “We got some good response from clientele saying, ‘We’re really excited to do some custom framing. We’ve been stuck at our house ... and my walls need some attention.”
The Duck Dive at 4650 Mission Blvd. is both a restaurant and a bar and has been open since May 22, soon after restaurants were allowed to resume dine-in service. Manager Rebekah Winn said the announcement that “bars” were allowed to reopen June 12 resulted in some confusion.
“Bars” refers to establishments that primarily serve alcohol and hold a Type 48 license, meaning no patron younger than 21 may enter. Duck Dive holds a Type 47 license, meaning it’s geared toward both food and drinks and patrons under 21 are allowed.
“Regulations are still in place,” Winn said. “You still have to have six feet from service areas and you still have to have six feet in between people.”
At Duck Dive, only four of the usual 30 to 40 bar seats are in use. Those four stools are bolted to the floor and ensure that customers don’t get closer than six feet from one another, unless they’re from the same household.
SD TapRoom at 1269 Garnet Ave. also was able to reopen Memorial Day weekend, including using a beer garden to have spread-out areas for social distancing. According to manager Craig Wiley, the restaurant and bar followed all the guidelines and “went above and beyond” to make sure employees and customers felt safe.
Sometimes, however, younger customers can be forgetful about bringing masks, Wiley said.
“There has been a bit of questioning, like, ‘Is it really necessary to take our temperature?’ That’s just the way we’re doing it for now,” Wiley said.
Winn said she observed some similar pushback at Duck Dive.
“We had four negative Yelp reviews ... from one party that said they were asked to leave. Because they wouldn’t wear their masks!” Winn said. “And that hurts our business. It’s so frustrating. They don’t say that’s the reason they were asked to leave. …
“So now we have to respond. We like to respond in a positive light and ask people to return, and ‘How can we help you? Let’s get you a gift certificate and get you back in here.’ But in this case it’s like, ‘No, no, no, hold on. You were not following the guidelines and we have to keep our community safe.’”
Though many bars and restaurants are back to in-person business, there are still some businesses that, though they fall into categories allowed to reopen, aren’t quite ready.
Michael Brown, chef and operator/manager at Barrel Republic Pacific Beach at 1261 Garnet Ave., said the establishment has a complicated situation in that it offers 60 taps for self-serve brews. A disposable sleeve would have to be provided for every customer to pour his or her own beer so people don‘t touch the same tap handles. Additionally, the taproom serves prepared food for a shareable experience — more close-up socializing, he said.
“It’s a very un-COVID business,” Brown said. “It’s very social … we’re the opposite of what’s happening in today’s world.”
For now, Brown is unsure when the taproom will be able to reopen.
Eric Whitman, co-owner of Pacific Beach Tattoo at 1160 Garnet Ave., which was open June 19, said it was frustrating for him to not be able to open before bars and other types of businesses that don’t typically follow strict sanitation rules. The tattooist said he was formerly a licensed practical nurse, working in many hospitals and clinics.
“Our tattoo shop is cleaner than many medical facilities,” Whitman said. “It’s not logical to me why tattooists or nail salons would take any less precautions than a bar.”
However, health officers were concerned about the close contact between staff members and clients at those businesses.
For more information on establishments allowed to reopen, visit bit.ly/sdreopeningplan.
San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Brittany Meiling contributed to this report.