Businesses hope the omicron variant of coronavirus won’t be as impactful in February as it was to start the year.

The momentum gained from summer and holiday events, outdoor dining experiences and partial return to offices suddenly went quiet after Christmas across the country.  Downtown San Jose businesses were disrupted and streets were noticeably empty as residents, employees and visitors stayed home while Omicron infections spiked. 

No stay-at-home orders were issued, although Mayor Sam Liccardo mandated that everyone attending large indoor events at city-owned facilities – like a concert or Sharks game at SAP Center – would have to show proof of booster vaccinations to enter starting Feb. 4.

Another setback was the announcement Jan. 13 that San Jose State classes would be taught “in fully remote modality” between Jan. 26 and Feb. 11, according to a statement by Interim President Stephen Perez.

The voluntary suspension of activity, called a soft shutdown, touched most businesses.  If they didn’t close altogether, many businesses tightened operating hours. 

Events also were pushed back and rescheduled.  For instance, Mission Chamber Orchestra postponed its Jan. 29 concert, featuring violinist Rachel Barton Pine, to March 4 at the Hammer Theatre Center.

“We are so relieved to be able to reschedule this concert to a date that should be safe for people to attend,” said Conductor Emily Ray.  “Ms. Pine is one of the top violinists in the United States and it would be a shame if the concert would have to be canceled completely.”

Closures and delays exacerbated the lack of energy downtown, but it also reminded us how much businesses are struggling.  Commonplace throughout the COVID pandemic, it is once again time to purchase gift cards, make donations and order food for pickup or to-go to help struggling businesses.

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