VENTURA (CBSLA) — After weeks of halted dine-in services, Busy Bee Cafe in Ventura was buzzing again on Thursday.
Ventura County received permission from the state to reopen seated dining in restaurants and allow shopping inside some retail stores, prompting residents to venture out of their homes and flock to the newly reopened businesses.
“We’re very exited about today, very excited to be open,” said the cafe’s owner, Raymundo Sanchez. “It’s going smooth, nice and smooth.”
Sanchez said the restaurant has made modifications and staff is taking extra safety precautions, like limiting capacity, to keep customers safe. On its first day back open, Busy Bee has seen a steady flow of diners.
“We were honestly looking for somewhere to pick some food up and just go back to our car and drive around, then we saw people inside and said, ‘Can we? Are we allowed to?'” said diner Kirsten Spitzer. “So, here we are. I mean, it’s great.”
Other diners were equally as excited to finally be dining in a restaurant again.
“How does it feel? Yay!” said Murray Shick. “It’s joyous, it’s a very happy day!”
Ventura County is the first county in Southern California to get approval for an reopening after the mid-March shutdowns to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Officials said this was possible because they met certain criteria, including declining rates for hospitalizations and infections.
Carol Barcellos wasn’t prepared to receive customers at her gift boutique B. On Main. The county said businesses must be registered and show they are complying with regulations before in-store shopping and restaurant dining is permitted.
“It was kind of a shock, I didn’t know until this morning,” she said. “I have to finish my certification, fill out of a form to tell the city what I’m doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Barcellos plans to reopen on Saturday. She said there will be a hand sanitizing station and someone at the door limiting the number of customers inside. Customers will have to wear masks and follow markings on the floor to make sure they’re social distancing.
“I have to protect the community, as a business owner, that’s my responsibility,” Barcellos said.
As of now, only retail businesses with entrances facing streets or parking lots can re-open. Stores inside malls will have to wait. Barcellos said she hopes Ventura County’s residents and visitors will continue to help keep their infection rates low.
“It’s also important to not let it explode because you’re allowing people in from other areas where there are infections,” she said.
As of Thursday, Ventura County reported 883 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 29 deaths attributed to the illness. Officials said 680 people had recovered from the illness.