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Stanislaus County restaurants, customers celebrate re-opening indoors in red tier

Stanislaus County was moved into the "red tier" which means restaurants, movie theaters, churches and other businesses can reopen indoors at 25 percent capacity.

MODESTO, Calif. — Businesses in Stanislaus County are celebrating after finally being moved into California's "red tier" of re-opening on Tuesday afternoon.

The red tier means restaurants, movie theaters, churches, and other businesses can re-open indoors at 25% capacity. Many of the business owners and even some regulars say they're breathing a major sigh of relief.

"I've been missing it really, really, really bad," Marshall Rivers said.

Before the pandemic, Rivers called himself a bit of regular at the Wildfire Public House, even on a first-name basis with the staff.

"If I can't sit here at the bar and see my girl Tawni, you know, I really didn't want to come sit outside and be in 110-degree heat and super bad smoky air. It just wasn't working for me," he said.

Rivers was one of the last customers there when the business had to close down the last time on July 1. Three and a half months later he's one of the first ones back.

"Taking food and going home is just not quite the same as sitting down and socializing with your friends," he said.

Owner John Ismail said he's proceeding with caution.

"It felt really weird. It felt like I was doing something wrong and then I was like, 'Oh no, we can do this!'" Ismail said.

That's why he says he's keeping up the plastic partitions and following all CDC guidelines in order to stay open.

"My biggest fear is, God forbid, that the cases go up and we're forced to go outdoor only. It's going to make it very very difficult for many restaurants, just for the fact of the weather and a lot of people might not make it," Ismail said.

It's a similar story just down the street at the Redwood Café.

"At the end of the day, we're all happy. It's going to get wintertime and we need to get our guests inside," said Bob Campana, the owner of the Redwood Cafe. "Our partitions that we put in pre-COVID, we're keeping those partitions in. We're limiting the seating and then we're not going to open our bar."

Although they do have a wide outdoor seating area, they're looking forward to seating a few of their guests back inside starting on Friday.

"We've been going on a couple of months where we just walk through the restaurant, serving people outside, it's kinda weird not using [the inside]. So now that we're back to bringing life back into the restaurant again, everyone in here is happy for that," Campana said.

Moving into the red tier also means that gyms can also finally re-open indoors at a 10% capacity and personal care services like waxing studios can also re-open.

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