Many businesses are trying to stay open through the pandemic and deal with the mandates made by the county and state. Restaurants have been hard pressed to remain open but other businesses are struggling as well, including The Little Farmhouse located on Fourth Street.
Technically classified as an indoor recreation center, the facility was deemed unnecessary by Sacramento County health guidelines and should not be in operation. This message was delivered by Galt Community Development Director Chris Erias to The Little Farmhouse personnel last Friday.
Owner Michelle Kiel, who recently purchased The Little Farmhouse and also has a home daycare business, was devastated after the visit from Erias.
“This is really hard,” Kiel said. “I still haven’t had a good cry. I’m just trying to make a living and to feed my family.”
No fines or other penalties were issued to Kiel; however, she was asked to shutter her doors, leaving the new owner without an income and many children who no longer have an indoor place to play away from the heat.
Following a day camp model, which is allowed, according to county health orders, Kiel opened The Little Farmhouse, which was well received, until now.
This summer, the city of Galt has had a number of day camp sessions, which occur indoors, a seemingly mixed message.
After the visit from Erias, Kiel has reached out to Sacramento County to be reclassified from just an indoor recreation facility, to a day camp, much like the city run camps.
“I hope she is able to do that,” Erias said, adding that when Kiel gets the green light from the county, she will only need to notify the city of the approval.
However, Kiel will still need to abide by county health measures, including posting about the use of masks, something Kiel says will be difficult for her young clients.
“They’re so little, Kiel said. “Wearing a mask is hard. They think they’re suffocating.”
Currently the health mandates require anyone over the age of 2 be required to wear a mask, unless they have a medical condition that prevents them from safely doing so. In another mixed message last month, Sacramento County Health Official Dr. Olivia Kasirye told the Galt elementary trustees that masks would not be required for young children in kindergarten and Pre-K.
But, despite the mixed messages, Kiel will post facemask signs in order to reopen her day camps, but acknowleges that she does not have the authority to enforce participants to wear them.
According to Kiel, a lot of businesses are scrambling to find ways to keep open. She said she thought the city was trying to help small businesses until last Friday.
“If they want us to succeed, they need to tell us what to do to stay open,” Kiel said.
Since the visit from the city, Kiel has posted the need to wear masks and comply with social distancing. She said each night her business is thoroughly disinfected, and hourly all toys and furniture are sprayed with disinfectant.
Erias said that his visit to The Little Farmhouse was sparked by a call from someone inquiring whether or not it was okay to take their child to the facility. Erias said the city is still taking an “educational approach” to these matters concerning businesses during the pandemic and said he knows these are very emotional times.
Bonnie Rodriguez contributed to this story.