COVID-19 infection rates become weekly ‘nail-biter’ for local businesses: Can they outlast pandemic?

As the county’s public health officer this week methodically reeled off the latest COVID-19 case rates, it quickly became clear that business owners’ greatest fears of yet another shutdown of indoor operations would not be realized.

“We made it through a nail-biter here today,” county Supervisor Jim Desmond said of the news that San Diego had escaped having to leave its red-tier reopening status for the state’s most restrictive purple tier. “It’s kind of a small victory.”

But was it? After six months of navigating the dips and surges of the novel coronavirus and nervously monitoring California’s ever-changing rules for what is and isn’t safe to reopen, local restaurants, bars and gyms are questioning how much longer — if at all — they and their employees can outlast the pandemic.

Since March, they’ve weathered a cycle of government-mandated closings and subsequent reopenings, as the state wrestles with the challenge of

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