Safer at home order frustrating local restaurants

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HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Gov. Kay Ivey’s Safer at Home order went into effect on Thursday. It allows retail stores and beaches to reopen but keeps dining areas closed in restaurants across the state. Local business owners are feeling frustrated as this decision is beyond their control.

Thirstea in Hoover has remained open throughout the pandemic, offering to-go orders. The manager, Cinthia Saenz said on some days, business came to a near standstill. This forced them to throw out a lot of perishable foods. “Grilled cheese and poke bowls. We had to just throw it away because no one was buying, we couldn’t use it,” Saenz said.

Saenz said business slowed so much, she began to worry about paying the bills.

“I didn’t know if it was going to go towards rent, power, gas, water. We aren’t even close to getting the daily… so yeah it was kind of scary. We aren’t there yet, but we’re just staying strong.”

While their dining area is closed, the owners took advantage of this time by painting and deep cleaning. Saenz expressed concern for when and if they are able to fully reopen, that customers may not comply with social distancing guidelines.

“It’s going to be hard to tell customers, you can’t come in,” Saenz said this was the first weekend they have seen sales start to return to normal.

Some restaurants in the area feel the governor’s Safer at Home Ordinance is unfair.

“If the beaches are open, they should at least let us open partially,” Jose Cortez, an employee at Casa Fiesta, said.

Casa Fiesta has watched its sales decline by 70% with the dining room closed. Employees said when the restaurant is able to fully reopen, they will be hiring professional cleaners to sanitize the dining area.

The current safer at home order remains in effect until May 15. As that date nears, the governor will announce the next steps for the state, and local restaurants.


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