Sandra Ayala, owner of Los Portales Mexican Grill in Chino, became a local social media sensation this spring when creative videos of her making margaritas and other drinks brought in customers for curbside service during the coronavirus lockdown.

On Friday, Ms. Ayala and her staff were able to serve those drinks and food to customers inside the restaurant for the first time since mid-March when Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all but employees of essential businesses to stay home to slow down the spread of the highly contagious virus.

On May 12, the governor approved reopening dine-in restaurants. On Monday, he okayed reopening most retail stores, shopping centers and houses of worship (see related story on this page), and on Tuesday, hair salons and barbershops got the nod to get back to business. All are part of the governor’s third phase to reopen business in California. 

Nail salons, movie theaters, gyms, and professional sports venues without live audiences — also in phase three — were not yet allowed to reopen as of Friday morning.


The recent reopenings come with restrictions, including social distancing; face coverings for staff and customers; frequent disinfecting of high-touch areas such as tables, chairs and counters; removal of amenities such as magazines and coffee stations in lobby areas; contacting customers before salon appointments to check for virus symptoms; and staggering appointments to reduce crowds.

Ms. Ayala of Chino had an online meeting with her staff members this week, outlining all the new coronavirus safety procedures that will be in place at Los Portales, including the wearing of masks and gloves (when serving), frequent sanitizing of tables, chairs and other common areas, eliminating the use of every other table to enforce social distancing, and requiring customers to wait outside before seating. 

Patty Kew of Chino Hills, owner of a Fantastic Sam’s hair salon in Chino, was busy taking calls Wednesday from customers anxious to get their hair cut and colored. She said she is phasing her employees back in as demand increases.

She also said the salon is taking a slow approach so they can inform customers of the new rules regarding social distancing and safe practices to help keep the virus at bay. The staff is wearing masks and requiring customers to do the same and has cut down on the number of chairs in the salon to provide more than six feet of social distancing.

During the shutdown, Ms. Kew said she experienced a range of emotions, including shock when the order first came out, relaxation when she was at home, and worry about her staff members making it financially. She said most were able to get unemployment benefits.

Citiwear, a women’s clothing store on Philadelphia Avenue in Chino, was only allowing three customers at a time into the store on Wednesday. Two other women waited patiently outside for a chance to shop in person again.

The clothing store is also requiring its customers to wear masks and remain at least six feet from customers and associates. Hand sanitizer is available inside the store for customer use, and the fitting rooms are temporarily closed. A sign on the Citiwear door states that sales of bodysuits are final for the safety of customers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks restaurants in California, including the restaurant in the Chino Spectrum Marketplace on Grand Avenue, have reopened their dining rooms. A company spokesperson said the restaurants will adhere to all federal, state, and local guidelines, as well as implement enhanced sanitation procedures. 

Feeling the sunshine

Friends who have not seen each other since the lockdown gathered Thursday morning in summer-like weather at Squeeze In Restaurant in Chino Hills.

“I’m so happy to see my friend,” Lauren Lumbattis said of Rebecca Calagna as they had breakfast together. “We haven’t seen each other for two months.”

Ms. Lumbattis, who grew up in Chino Hills and now lives in Eastvale, said she was impressed with the cleanliness of the restaurant and how sanitation is being handled.

Ms. Calagna said she was happy to be outside and enjoying the sunshine.

City of Chino Hills spokeswoman Denise Cattern said she has seen some new activity in The Shoppes at Chino Hills. “I think people are getting ready,” she said. Mrs. Cattern said she was the first person to dine in at the Yard House restaurant in The Shoppes on Tuesday.

Massage Heights in The Shoppes has started to book appointments, Mrs. Cattern said.

The Dog Haus in Chino Hills opened Friday at 25 percent capacity to provide social distancing. The staff will also wear gloves and masks, as mandated by the governor, as well as implement a comprehensive cleaning regimen which includes hourly sanitation.

Proper handwashing will be strictly enforced, staff members’ health will be monitored, and a hostess will seat guests during peak hours, a company spokesperson said. 

State guidelines

San Bernardino County has compiled a list of links to industry-specific COVID guidelines from the California Department of Public Health.

Dine-in restaurants: tent/guidance-dine-in-restaurants.pdf

Shopping centers: tent/guidance-shopping-centers.pdf


Hair salons and barbershops:

Places of worship:

For other businesses seeking clarification on the statewide guidance to follow if permitted to open, visit:

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