Pacific Beach

Orange Tier: Looser Restrictions for Some Mean More Business for All

A tattoo shop owner says says the orange tier is big news for the entire economy because looser restrictions for some mean more business for all

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It's a new era for San Diego: The county has officially entered the orange tier, paving the way for businesses to welcome back more customers -- and putting the region one step closer to putting the pandemic behind us.

No more lines to get inside retail stores. Restaurants and bars can now seat 50% capacity. The same goes for churches, movie theaters and more.

Even business owners not directly affected by the tier change say the impact is huge. Tattoo parlors, for example, have been back open for a while now, and the shift from red to orange tier status won't change how they're doing business.

But the owner of a parlor in Pacific Beach says looser restrictions mean more people feel safe getting tattoos, and that changes everything.

Alexandra Cerasaro got her eighth tattoo Wednesday morning, something she's thrilled to do at a time when the county is reopening.

"I'm excited to do the tattoos now,” says Cerasaro. “Before we had to kind of do that undercover."

The restaurant worker says she and her friends always felt safe but she can feel a difference seeing more people out and about.

"I'm very excited because I'm starting to see that a lot is changing,” says Cerasaro.

The man holding the needle is Axiom Tattoo owner Travis Luckhurst.

"It... has been interesting,” says Luckhurst. “It was devastating at first."

Two huge steps forward in getting back to pre-COVID-19 life: In just hours, San Diego County officially moves into the orange tier; we also know when California may fully reopen. Plus: A big update on the injury to Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. NBC 7’s Monica Dean has the Nightly Check-In for Tuesday, March 6.

He's only owned this shop three years, so a third of his time open was hit by the pandemic.

"For small businesses in general it was like a hit to the stomach," says Luckhurst.

He says the closures sparked several conversations about whether the shop would survive. 

"Right when it started and they did the first shutdown,” says Luckhurst. “It seemed like the world was crumbling in a way that didn't know if it was going to repair itself in the same way."

Tattoo parlors are still subject to restrictions: Face masks are mandatory, tattoos by appointment only, and clients must limit who they can bring with them.

But Luckhurst says the shop is coming out stronger from the shutdown. And he says the orange tier is big news for the entire economy because looser restrictions for some mean more business for all.

"Coming into the orange tier now has been great,” says Luckhurst. “Because it's allowed people to feel more comfortable and more open and feels like regular life more a little bit again."

Some other major changes under the orange tier: the 10 p.m. curfew is ending. And bars that don't serve food can now once again reopen, as long as they operate outdoors.

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