NAPA (KPIX 5) — As COVID case rates continue to surge across the Bay Area and the state, some North Bay businesses feel they are taking an unnecessary hit.

In Napa County, health officials say 33 percent of virus spread is coming from household exposure, with another 24 percent from friends and family. That is very much in line with what the state health officials are describing across California: the surge is being driven largely by people gathering together — in
homes and in other places — and contributing to the spread.

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That has a lot of business owners in Napa asking why they are the subject of the new virus crackdown.

“You know, it’s a desolate street,” said Erin Riley, owner of Be Bubbly wine bar. “The restaurants are closed. Retail shops are closed. With the rain, it was almost like it was crying for us.”

For Riley, Purple Tier restrictions — and the recent wet weather — have brought a full stop at Be Bubbly. And she was not alone. 2nd Street in Napa was pretty empty.

“I feel badly for my neighbors who have restaurants,” saod Jennifer Smith, owner of Antiques on Second. “And then we suffer for not having them coming into our shop.”

Antiques on Second is now limited to 25 percent capacity, just in time for  holiday shopping. Smith is strictly adhering to all health guidelines, but she has a question.

“I haven’t heard anything about any particular retail establishments being traced back to an outbreak,” she said.

Riley had similar questions.

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“Knowing that people are getting sick because they are gathering at home, they’re gathering with their families, they’re going to house parties. So why are businesses closing? Well, because there’s no way to control what’s going on in homes and what’s going on in private gatherings,” explained Riley.

Napa County District 4 Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza is also frustrated.

“The pandemic fatigue that we are seeing in our community is completely understandable,” said Pedroza. “We’ve been at it for months.”

He says the state’s approach to virus control may be unfairly penalizing some businesses, and creating skeptics.

“We need to make sure that the data that we utilize, that’s attributed to these decisions that are being made, takes into account the local conditions to ensure that communities can stand behind the decisions that are being made,” said Pedroza.

The decision to move to the Purple Tier is clearly having an immediate effect on the economy.

“Yeah, it’s sadly quiet,” observed boutique store owner Mugette Rinaldi.

As always, there is no way to know how long the current tier status amid the COVID surge is going to last.

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“Yeah, the uncertainty of it all is really the hardest part,” Smith said. “Getting shut down again, if we shut all the way down, it would be devastating to people. I don’t know how businesses would stay open.”