By Wilson Walker

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – As the COVID-19 omicron surge accelerates, small businesses across the Bay Area are struggling to keep staff on hand, and the doors open.

“It has been awful,” says Hillary Passman, owner of Devil’s Teeth Baking and Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company. “We have closed our Balboa Devil’s Teeth location for two days. We had to close the brewery one day last week. We are running on skeleton staff, and sending people home as their tests come back positive. It’s pretty bad.”

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From restaurants in San Francisco, to book stores in the East Bay, the latest COVID crunch is here.

Sign outside a Berkeley business that closed due to a COVID-19 exposure during the omicron variant surge, January 5, 2022. (CBS)

Sign outside a Berkeley business that closed due to a COVID-19 exposure during the omicron variant surge, January 5, 2022. (CBS)

“What else could possibly go wrong, you know what I mean?” asks Amy Thomas, owner of Pegasus books. With three locations, staffing was already at a minimum.

“So when somebody goes out sick, or has to quarantine, or their child has to quarantine, we’re down to less than barebones actually,” Thomas told KPIX 5.

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Walk any business corridor and the signs are there, businesses announcing that they are “closed for quarantine.” And this is on top of the pre-existing condition.

“Well, it’s just been hard to find people that work, want to work,” said Liz Taylor, owner of Tootsies Rockridge & Crush on College.

Taylor is basically running two stores by herself, and while she is worried about a positive test, there’s a problem.

“I find that it’s really hard to get tests right now,” Taylor said. “So I wish that would not be the case, because that would make everyone feel better, I think.”

So after almost two brutal years, it’s just another tough chapter for businesses, but a chapter some anticipated, and made plans for.

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“We decided to create a pool of money that’s just COVID ‘I tested positive’ money for each employee,” Thomas explained. “So they can draw on that if they need, and it should cover about what they were making for two weeks.”