Desperate Business Owners Reeling From Latest Closure Order

Small business owners considering all options, even if it means breaking the rules

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Small business owners are desperately searching for ways to survive in light of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest closure orders that go into effect at midnight.

While some businesses will try to make ends meet by moving their operations outdoors, others are so frustrated that their owners are considering operating in defiance of the order.

“I would consider it," said Peter San Nicolas. "Absolutely, I would consider it.”

San Nicolas is the owner of Ramona Fitness Center. Defiance of a public health order is by no means his first choice, said San Nicolas. but he has done so once before.

“What am I supposed to do?" San Nicolas said. "I don’t know. It’s about survival at this point."

San Nicolas said his business lost more than $250,000 after the first shutdown order, on March 17. He reopened in defiance of the order on June 1. He said deputies told him that same day that he could face potential criminal action. He remained open anyway.

Up till now, there have not been any COVID-19 cases connected to the gym, San Nicolas told NBC 7.

“I had people not happy with me, and so someone would call the sheriff’s department every day," San Nicolas said. "The sheriff’s department would come down, and we would let them know we’re going to stay open."

San Nicolas said he hasn’t decided what he will do this time around, but he knows his business can not sustain another extended closure.

“They say three weeks, but that’s what was said last time -- three weeks to slow the spread turned into three months,” San Nicolas said.

Meanwhile, other gyms in San Diego County hope to stay open by moving their operations outdoors. San Nicolas said that’s not an option for him.

“I would say it’s feasible if you’re at the coast," San Nicolas said. "Here in Ramona, it gets 100-plus degrees. The asphalt here, it’s going to be 130 degrees out here."

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